Zootennis

Tuesday, July 7, 2020

Teens Bernard, Chervinsky, Vassel and Dellabarca Win ITA Summer Circuit Titles; More on Cuts to D-I Olympic Sports; ATP Announces Ranking Changes

Two more ITA Summer Circuit events were held over the weekend, and all four winners of the top flights are junior players. 

At the tournament in Lakeland Florida, No. 3 seed Alexander Bernard, the reigning Kalamazoo 16s champion, defeated No. 4 seed Maxwell Giddens, a rising freshman at Auburn, 6-4, 6-3 in the final. Bernard, a blue chip rising junior who turns 17 next month, defeated top seed Noah Schachter, a rising junior at Texas A&M, 7-5, 7-6(4) in the semifinals, while Giddens took out No. 2 seed Stefan Storch, a rising sophomore at Texas A&M, 6-1, 6-2 in the other semifinal.

The girls final, also between the No. 3 and No. 4 seeds, was yet another battle between friends Madison Sieg and Elaine Chervinsky, who met in the Eddie Herr 16s final in 2018. No. 3 seed Chervinsky, a blue chip who has committed to Virginia for 2021, defeated blue chip rising junior Sieg, the 2018 Orange Bowl 16s champion, 4-6, 6-2, 10-6.  Chervinsky beat top seed Gianna Pielet 6-4, 6-3 in the semifinals, while Sieg defeated No. 2 seed Emma Shelton 6-3, 6-1 in the other semifinal.

At the Ojai tournament, four-star rising senior Jake Vassel, the No. 8 seed, defeated No. 3 seed Noah Laber, a four star rising freshman at Middlebury, 6-2, 7-5 in the final. Top seed Alexey Aleshchev, who won the previous ITA Summer Circuit tournament in Ojai the week before, retired after dropping the first set in the quarterfinals. No. 2 seed Brandon Lam lost in the quarterfinals.

Five-star rising junior Calissa Dellabarca won the girls title, with the No. 4 seed defeating Purdue rising senior Seira Shimuzu, the No. 8 seed, 6-1, 7-6(2). Top seed Emilee Duong lost in the quarterfinals; No. 2 seed Velizara Fileva lost in the first round.

The ITA Summer Circuit really gets going this weekend, with seven different events on the schedule. The tournament at the USTA National Campus has a waiting list for its 32 spots, and the tournament in Indianapolis has over 170 entries for both men and women.

ESPN published an article today about the struggle of Olympic sports in the current college financial environment. While tennis is not the focus, its problems are addressed by Florida women's head coach Roland Thornqvist, who cites television as the answer. The athletic director at Texas mentions tennis student-athletes missing class while playing pro tournaments in the fall, which can only be viewed as a criticism of that now common practice.

The Associated Press published an article yesterday about the problems of tennis in particular, with comments from the USTA's Tim Cass, ITA CEO Tim Russell and former Stanford coach Dick Gould.

Yesterday the ATP announced how it would handle its rankings given the five-month hiatus that we are still in. Basically, the rankings will cover 22 months and the best 18 tournaments over that period will be counted. If you play the same tournament twice, only the highest points from that tournament will count, not both. For more, plus a link to the frequently asked questions, see this ATP article.

Monday, July 6, 2020

USTA Cancels All ITF World Tour August Events in US; Striplin Lynch Named Head Coach at Clemson, Vanderbilt's Announcement on Tsoubanos, Atawo Hired at Auburn, More College News; Tiafoe Out of World Team Tennis


Late this afternoon, the USTA sent out a brief statement canceling all five ITF World Tennis Tour events scheduled for August in the US.

July 6, 2020

ITF World Tennis Tour Cancellations
Due to the ongoing situation surrounding COVID-19, the USTA has cancelled all five ITF World Tennis Tour events taking place in the U.S. in August. This decision was made to ensure the health and safety of all those involved with these events.
  • The events include:
    • Week of August 3
      • Lexington, Ky. – Women’s Event
    • Week of August 10
      • Landisville, Pa. – Women’s Event
    • Week of August 17
      • Concord, Mass. – Women’s Event
      • Decatur, Ill. – Men’s Event
      • Memphis, Tenn. – Men’s Event
This is crushing news for US players who hoped to start earning points and money next month, and with health and safety given as the reason, it obviously doesn't bode well for the USTA 18s and 16s Nationals scheduled for August 8-16, nor for the ITF Grade 1 in College Park Maryland at the end of the month, although I have seen nothing official on those tournaments.

Clemson announced today that Christy Striplin Lynch has been named head coach of the women's program. Striplin Lynch, who played at Georgia Tech and was assistant/associate head coach there the past six years, replaces Nancy Harris, who retired after 26 years leading the Tigers.

More than a week ago, word leaked of Aleke Tsoubanos, the longtime women's associate head coach at Vanderbilt, taking over for Geoff Macdonald and that was confirmed today, with the school announcing that Tsoubanos would move up to head coach. Macdonald, who is in his early 60s and was head coach at Vanderbilt for 26 years, is staying on the assistant coach. I'm sure someone with more years following college tennis remembers a comparable switch, but I certainly don't recall one in the past 15 years. But from the quotes in the article, everyone seems happy with this transition, which could become an option for others going forward.

Raquel Atawo, who competed at Cal and on the WTA tour as Raquel Kops-Jones, has been named to the position of women's assistant coach at Auburn. Atawo, who won the NCAA doubles title in 2003 and was the ITA Player of the Year in 2004, holds 18 doubles titles on the WTA Tour and reached a high of No. 10 in the WTA doubles rankings in 2015. She served as women's volunteer assistant at Cal last year.

In other Division I men's coaching news, Jeff Wilson has been named men's head coach at University of the Pacific in Stockton California. Wilson was the assistant men's coach at Dartmouth last season, and had previously coached in the women's programs at Duke and Georgia Tech.

The University of South Florida has announced the transfer of twins Harry and Grey Cacciatore, who just completed their sophomore year at the University of Florida.

Georgia Tech has announced the signing of ITF Top 100 junior Chen Dong of Australia.

Oren Vassar, who spent two seasons at William and Mary, has transferred to Miami.

The Minnesota women have signed Zeyneb Sarioglan of Turkey.

Today's World Team Tennis announcement stated "Washington Kastles player Frances Tiafoe, having tested positive for COVID-19 within the advance travel testing window, is ineligible to compete in the 2020 World Team Tennis season.” The WTT season begins on Sunday, July 12th.

Sunday, July 5, 2020

Paul and Fritz, Subs King and Eubanks Lead Team Stars to All-American Team Cup Victory; Rogers Goes Undefeated in Kentucky Exhibition; Fery Captures LTA British Tour Title

Two former Georgia Tech standouts picked up big wins today for Team Stars, Taylor Fritz continued the Stars comeback and Tommy Paul took the deciding tiebreaker to earn a 13-12 victory over Team Stripes in the DraftKings All-American Team Cup Sunday in suburban Atlanta.

Chris Eubanks was called into service when Frances Tiafoe left the competition after testing positive for Covid-19 Friday after the first day of matches. Eubanks defeated Tennys Sandgren on Saturday, then returned today to beat John Isner 7-5, 4-6, 10-6. Kevin King, who was subbing for an injured Reilly Opelka, had beaten Sam Querrey 3-6, 7-6(2) 10-5 in Sunday's first match. With a win now worth three points, after earning just one point on Friday and two on Saturday, the match was now tied at 9-9, and the Stars took a 12-9 lead when Fritz beat Sandgren 4-6, 6-3, 10-7, but Steve Johnson forced a deciding tiebreaker when he beat Paul 7-6(2), 6-4 in the evening match.

In the event of a tie after three days of singles, the two players in the final match were to play a standard tiebreaker to decide which team was the winner, and Paul captured that 7-3. I think a doubles match might have been a more interesting method of breaking the tie, but it was an entertaining day, despite the anxiety that Tiafoe's test had injected into it yesterday.

Tiafoe is scheduled to compete for the Washington Kastles next Sunday in World Team Tennis, but I would not expect him to be able to fulfill that obligation now.  Others from this Atlanta event heading to The Greenbrier Resort are Fritz, Sandgren, Querrey and Johnson.
Shelby Rogers, photo courtesy Scott Gerber, Ohio Tennis Zone
The Young Kings Scholarship tournament this weekend in Nicholasville Kentucky concluded today, with only two matches completed, but Shelby Rogers finished the weekend undefeated, the only player to do so. Rogers defeated Jamie Loeb and Jessica Pegula in straights sets on Friday and Saturday, and today the 27-year-old, currently 113 in the WTA rankings, ran out to a 5-0 lead on Marine Partaud of France before Partaud retired in the day's last match. Leylah Fernandez gave CiCi Bellis a walkover in their match today; Genie Bouchard beat Loeb 6-4, 6-4 and Pegula beat the previously undefeated Caty McNally 7-5, 6-3.
Pegula, McNally and Bouchard now have until next Sunday to get ready for the start of their World Team Tennis seasons.

Last week's men's Battle of the Brits brought tennis back to Great Britain, with Dan Evans taking the title at that national competition. It was technically an exhibition, with no points at stake, but as we've seen throughout the world, players are looking for opportunities to prepare for the resumption of the ATP, WTA and ITF Tours next month.

This month, which of course in a normal year is devoted to primarily to Wimbledon, the LTA has organized a British Tour, four weeks of competition for men and women, most of whom are regulars on the ITF Circuit, although Cam Norrie is scheduled to compete in Week 2. Prize money is offered, free live streaming is available and it looks like a well-thought-out system to assist British players in dealing with the financial fallout of the past several months.

In the finals of the first week's tournament today, two teenagers who would no doubt be competing at Wimbledon in a normal year, Arthur Fery and Emma Raducanu, collected the titles. Raducanu, 17, defeated Jodie Burrage 6-4, 2-6, 10-4 in the women's final, and Fery, also 17, defeated TCU rising senior Alastair Gray 7-6(5), 6-4. Fery is scheduled to join the team at Stanford this fall. For more on the first week of competition, see this LTA article.

Saturday, July 4, 2020

Tiafoe Tests Positive for Covid-19; Eubanks, King Called in as Subs in DraftKings Event; Ma Commits to Stanford; McNally Wins Again in Kentucky

Frances Tiafoe played, and won, his first match of the DraftKings All-American Team Cup Friday, beating Sam Querrey 6-4, 7-6(5), but this morning the 22-year-old American announced he had tested positive for the Covid-19 virus. Tiafoe had taken a medical timeout in his match with Querrey, but because he had tested negative in Florida prior to arriving in Peachtree City Georgia, he did not think the virus was responsible for his fatigue. I am not clear on why each player wasn't tested the minute he arrived in Georgia, and I had seen a photo of Reilly Opelka undergoing a test recently, so I assumed all eight players were tested, but the announcement from the tournament says only "Like all the players, Tiafoe was tested prior to or upon arrival in Atlanta and has passed daily temperature tests."

The tournament, which is allowing socially distancing fans, has continued despite Tiafoe's positive test, with substitutes from nearby Georgia Tech have been called in to play in place of Tiafoe and Opelka, with Opelka bowing out of his Saturday matches with what is being described as an injury.
Eubanks played the Kalamazoo Opening Night Exhibition in 2018
Chris Eubanks, subbing for Tiafoe, defeated Tennys Sandgren 6-3, 7-6(5) this afternoon, while Kevin King, subbing for Opelka, lost to John Isner 6-1, 6-3.

After the women's event in Charleston went off without incident last weekend, there was hope that this men's event could provide additional optimism for next month's return of the ATP/WTA in the United States. But with no indication that the virus is in any way controlled in this country in the past week or two, and now this, the outlook for the return of professional tennis is getting murky. World Team Tennis begins a week from tomorrow at The Greenbrier Resort in West Virginia, and the first week of that competition may prove to be a make-or-break situation for other events in the United States.

Parsa Nemati posted one of his biggest bombs of the year yesterday, with Connie Ma, No. 1 in the Tennis Recruiting Class of 2021, committing to Stanford. Ma, who is from Northern California and has always prioritized school over tennis tournaments, is entered in the USTA Girls 18s Nationals in San Diego next month. 
Eighteen-year-old Caty McNally has won both of the singles matches she has played at the Young Kings Scholarship tournament in Nicholasville Kentucky this weekend. McNally saved three match points in her 4-6, 7-5 10-7 win over CiCi Bellis Friday, and today she breezed past Leylah Fernandez of Canada 6-2, 6-2. Shelby Rogers is also 2-0 in singles, having beaten Jamie Loeb Friday and Jessica Pegula today. For scores from the past two days, click here.

Friday, July 3, 2020

Aces From Previous Junes Include Isner, Anderson, Barty; Two ATP Challengers in Orlando Added to Schedule; Reviewing ITF Men's and Women's US Calendars for Remainder of 2020

For the third straight month, I've had to go back into the archives to come up with a way to extend the streak of my monthly Aces column for Tennis Recruiting Network. Thirteen years ago, I began featuring the top accomplishments of junior and college players each month; for this edition, I found 14 competitors from 2007-2016 who went on to reach the ATP or WTA Top 50, beginning with two of most accomplished collegiate players this century: Kevin Anderson and John Isner. Also featured is current WTA No. 1 Ashleigh Barty, who won the French Open last year, but excelled on grass back in 2012.

The ATP has announced a provisional Challenger calendar for August and September, with 11 tournaments now on the schedule between August 17 and September 7. Two Challenger 125s have been added in the United States, coinciding with the Western and Southern Open and the first week of the US Open, with the USTA's National Campus hosting the back-to-back events beginning August 24th. The other nine Challengers during that four-week stretch are in Europe: four in the Czech Republic, four in Italy and one in France. There will be 16-player qualifying and 32-player main draws, a change from the recent 4-player qualifying draws and the 48-player main draws that have been in place since 2019 for ATP Challengers.

I went through the ITF World Tennis Tour calendars for men and women today, and although I assume there will be changes in the weeks to come, here is what the rest of the year looks like for WTT/USTA Pro Circuit tournaments in the United States, not including Challengers:

ITF World Tennis Tour Men’s Events

as of 7/3/20, in United States

AUGUST
17-23
Decatur IL M25, moved from Aug 3
Memphis TN M25, moved from Aug 10

SEPTEMBER
14-20
Champaign IL M25 (previously M15)

21-27
Fayetteville AR M15

28-Oct 4 
Harlingen TX M25


OCTOBER
5-12
Norman OK M25
Ithaca NY M15

12-18
Wichita KS M25 (moved from June)
Tallahassee FL M15

26-Nov 1
Fountain Valley CA M15

NOVEMBER
2-8
Ithaca NY M15
Fayetteville AR M15

9-15
Shreveport LA M15

16-22
Austin TX M15

23-29
East Lansing MI M15 (moved from previous week)

ITF World Tennis Tour Women’s Events

as of 7/3/20, in United States

AUGUST
3-9
Lexington KY W100 (was W60)

10-16
Landisville PA W100

SEPTEMBER
21-27
Lubbock TX W15

28-Oct 4
Templeton CA W60

OCTOBER
5-11
Las Vegas NV W80

Hilton Head SC W15

12-18
Florence SC W25

19-25
Macon GA W80

Fountain Valley CA W15

26-Nov 1
Tyler TX W80

Austin TX W15

NOVEMBER
9-15
Malibu CA W60

16-22
Norman OK W15 (moved from two weeks earlier)

The bread and butter of the USTA Pro Circuit, the $25,000-level events, have nearly disappeared, with the women especially hit hard in this category, with just one currently on the schedule for the rest of the year. Four originally on the schedule for September and early October are gone, with Florence the only one remaining.

Thursday, July 2, 2020

Megargee, Frosch Win Titles at 16s American Clay Court Nationals; UTR One-Day Tournaments Set for National Campus; Eight Top WTA Players Begin Play Friday at Young Kings Scholarship Exhibition in Kentucky

Owen Megargee, photo courtesy Tennis on Main
Champions in the 16s American Clay Court Nationals were crowned today at The Greenbrier resort, with rising sophomore and five-star recruit Owen Megargee taking the boys title and rising eight-grader and five-star recruit Laima Frosch claiming the girls title. Megargee, who came into the tournament with the highest UTR, defeated Chase Robinson, who had the second highest UTR in the field, 7-5, 2-6, 6-0 in the singles final, after they had won the doubles title earlier as a team. Frosch, who had the highest UTR in the girls draw, defeated Mia Robinson, Chase Robinson's sister, 3-6, 6-0, 6-1 in the girls final, adding to her doubles title earlier.
Laima Frosch, photo courtesy Tennis on Main

Boys Singles:
1st: Owen Megargee
2nd: Chase Robinson
3rd: Ryan Mudre
4th: Bryson Cook

Girls Singles:
1st: Laima Frosch
2nd: Mia Robinson
3rd: Natalie Oliver
4th: Kiersten Tambe

Boys Doubles: Owen Megargee and Chase Robinson 
Girls Doubles: Laima Frosch and Natalie Oliver

The American Clay Court Nationals for the 12s and 14s are later this month at Centercourt in Chatham New Jersey. The 14s are July 10-12 and the 12s are July 17-19, with entries open through July 3 (tomorrow) for the 14s and July 10 for the 12s.

The USTA has announced several UTR events for the July 28-31 at the National Campus in Lake Nona, with a very attractive entrance fee of $0 for UTR members and $10 for non-UTR members. The All-American Match Play events, for players in the high school classes of 2021, 2022, 2023 and 2024, are one-day only, depending on gender and UTR rating, with two matches scheduled for each competitor. Training with USTA pros prior to the start of the late afternoon matches is available for a $40 fee. For more information, and a link to registration, see this USTA article.

Yesterday I mentioned the men's DraftKings All-American Team Cup getting underway in Georgia tomorrow, while up Interstate 75, eight accomplished women will be playing in the Young Kings Scholarship  Tournament in Nicholasville Kentucky.  Eugenie Bouchard will take on Jamie Loeb at 10 a.m. Friday, followed by Leylah Fernandez against CiCi Bellis, then Caty McNally versus Jessica Pegula, with Marine Partaud and Shelby Rogers completing the day's singles matches (NOTE: All these matches have been reconfigured as of 9 am July 3; it's Pegula v Bouchard; Bellis v McNally; Loeb v Rogers; Partuad v Fernandez). Streaming and live scoring is available through the TennisOne app, and Cracked Racquets will be providing commentary.

Wednesday, July 1, 2020

Sandgren Heads To Atlanta Exhibition after Claiming Altec Styslinger Title; NCAA Doubles Champion Harris Blasts Federer and Gaudenzi; Kayla Day Update

Tennys Sandgren cruised in today's final at the Altec Styslinger Exhibition in Miami Beach, beating Sam Querrey 4-1, 4-1 in just 30 minutes. The former Tennessee All American, who had the fourth best ATP ranking among the eight participants, returned well and didn't face a break point in the no-ad, first to four games format, with his backhand particularly effective.  Eighteen-year-old Brandon Nakashima picked up his second ATP Top 40 win of the week in the match for third place, beating No. 39 Reilly Opelka 4-3(2), 4-3(3). The shot of the tournament came in today's fifth place match, with Hubert Hurkacz of Poland hitting a bullet of a tweener winner in his victory over Mackenzie McDonald.

The next stop for Sandgren, Querrey, Opelka and Steve Johnson is the DraftKings All-American Team Cup in Peachtree City Georgia. Sandgren, Querrey and Johnson will be joined by John Isner on Team Stripes, while Opelka, Taylor Fritz, Tommy Paul and Frances Tiafoe make up Team Stars. Competition begins Friday at noon, with socially distancing fans expected to be in attendance. The format will be similar to the women's Credit One Bank Exhibition last weekend in Charleston South Carolina, with a tiebreaker in lieu of a third set and escalating points for wins each of the three days. Unlike Charleston, there won't be doubles. Tennis Channel will be providing broadcast coverage.

The status of lower ranked players has come up quite a bit during this pandemic, whether it's on Noah Rubin's Behind the Racquet podcast or Nicholas Wernink's research that I published a couple of weeks ago, and recently another player spoke out about that issue, 2017 NCAA doubles champion Andrew Harris of Australia. Harris, an All-American at Oklahoma, is currently ranked 204, after climbing to 159 last fall. Harris isn't happy with the communication he's received from the ATP, criticizes new ATP CEO Andrea Gaudenzi for not taking a pay cut during the long layoff, and calls out Roger Federer for saying he supports more prize money for lower ranked players but then votes against it. For more on Harris's frustration, see this Yahoo Sport Australia article.

Kayla Day, the 2016 US Open girls champion and former ITF Junior World No. 1, has struggled since the spring of 2018, falling from her career-high WTA ranking of 122 to 480 now. Day, who will turn 21 in September, talked with Santa Barbara sports broadcaster Mike Klan about moving back home, reconnecting with her childhood coach and her friendship with Sophie Whittle, the former Gonzaga All-American. Whittle is also interviewed in the clip, and it's worth watching the video for the photo of the two of them after a match when they were very young.

Tuesday, June 30, 2020

Aleshchev, Lee, Coppoc and Stice Win ITA Summer Circuit Titles; Crawford Signs with GSE Worldwide; Perez Claims Australian UTR Pro Series Title; Sandgren and Querrey Advance to Altec Styslinger Final

The first two ITA Summer Circuit tournaments have concluded with the top two seeds winning the events at the Weil Academy in Ojai California, and the No. 3 seeds taking the titles in the top flights in Alpharetta Georgia.

Vanderbilt incoming freshman Anessa Lee, who did not lose a set in her four victories, defeated rising high school senior Makenna Thiel 6-3, 6-4 in the final of Flight 1. Thiel, a four-star recruit, was the No. 5 seed.

Alexey Aleshchev, a rising senior at Fresno State, won the men's Flight 1 final, beating rising high school senior Takeyasu Sekiguchi 6-3, 6-2. Ojai resident Sekiguchi, a five-star recruit, was the No. 8 seed.

In Georgia, Tyler Stice, a rising sophomore at Auburn, won the men's Flight A, after taking out top seed Andres Martin(Georgia Tech) in the semifinals 6-4, 1-6, 10-6 and beating No. 7 seed Jordan Chrysostom 7-5, 6-0 in the final. Chrysostom recently transferred from Tennessee to Virginia Tech after his freshman year.

Morgan Coppoc, a rising senior at the University of Georgia, claimed the women's Flight A title, beating unseeded Georgia Gwinnett rising senior Maria Genovese (formerly Shishkina) 1-6, 6-5 ret. Genovese had defeated unseeded 14-year-old Brooklyn Olson 6-4, 7-5 in the semifinals, while Coppoc had downed rising high school senior and North Carolina recruit Carson Tanguilig 7-6(4), 6-4.

Shortly after the NCAA canceled the spring season for 2020, University of Florida junior Oliver Crawford announced that he was turning pro. The 21-year-old from South Carolina, who reached the Top 10 in the ITF junior rankings, has now signed with GSE Worldwide, a management agency that represents Grigor Dimitrov, Sloane Stephens, Sam Querrey, Brandon Nakashima, Danielle Collins and others.  Below is the release from the University of Florida detailing his outstanding career there.

GAINESVILLE, Fla. - University of Florida men's tennis standout and captain Oliver Crawford has chosen to forego his final year with the Gators to pursue and begin his professional tennis career after signing with GSE Worldwide, a leading athlete representation and sport marketing firm. 

"I was inspired by a sporting heritage that includes national champions, world class athletes and the daily challenge to do your best," said Crawford of his time at Florida. "I just wanted to add to the legacy and be part of the story. There is no better place than this."

An immediate contributor since he stepped foot on campus, Crawford, a three-time ITA All-American and two-time First Team All-SEC selection, concludes his career at UF with 125 overall combined wins, including 63 singles wins and 62 doubles wins overall. Holding a plethora of high rankings throughout his career in both singles and doubles, Crawford holds impressive career dual marks of 44-16 in singles and 44-13 in doubles, including career SEC records of 23-5 and 19-3 respectively.

"It has been a real privilege to be able to coach Oliver over the past three seasons," said head coach Bryan Shelton. "I speak for Coach Stump, Coach Perelman, our staff and all of our players and fans. Oliver delivered time and time again and was always up for the challenge. Oliver pushed our program forward with his leadership and his positive energy."

"While we will certainly miss Oliver next season, I can't wait to watch him continue to break through at the professional level and live out his dream! Oliver was built for this and I know he will reach all of his goals!"

Crawford went 11-4 overall in singles and 13-3 in doubles for the 2019-20 season to earn ITA All-American singles and doubles recognition. Ranked as high as No. 3 throughout the fall, the Spartanburg, S.C. native compiled an 8-3 dual singles record at the top spot, including a 6-2 mark over ranked opponents, and 3-1 record in SEC play. Crawford and co-captain Sam Riffice went 9-2 together at the top spot for the Gators, finishing 3-0 in SEC play, as the pair opened the season on a six-match win streak that included a top-five win over Columbia's Jack Lin and Jackie Tang. The tandem reached a career-high ranking of No. 13 prior to finishing ranked No. 14, as the duo also won the consolation doubles draw of the ITA All-American Championships in the fall.

During his sophomore season in 2019, Crawford was significant in the Gators' NCAA Final Four run as he played all 29 matches at the No. 1 singles position and amassed a 16-8 record, while recording 14 wins over nationally ranked opponents, including a three-set victory over then-No. 2 and defending singles national champion Petros Chrysochos of Wake Forest in Florida's 5-2 win over the No. 2 Demon Deacons. He earned the No. 8 seed at the NCAA Singles Championships, advanced to the Sweet 16 and was named an ITA All-American for the first time in his career. Crawford went 9-3 in SEC singles and 8-3 in SEC doubles, while concluding the season with 25 singles wins and 23 doubles wins, in which he reached and finished the season with a singles ranking of No. 7 (No. 1 in the ITA Southeast Region). Crawford received First Team All-SEC, SEC All-Tournament Team, NCAA All-Tournament Team and SEC Community Service Team honors, while also going on to be named the ITA Southeast Region and National Player to Watch.

Additionally, in the fall, he had earned a spot on Team USA for the Master'U BNP Paribas, in which USA won the championship.

His freshman year in 2018, Crawford held a 20-5 singles record with a 19-5 doubles record, while going 11-1 in SEC singles and undefeated (8-0) in SEC doubles. Tabbed the ITA Southeast Region Rookie of the Year and 2018 SEC Freshman of the Year, along with All-SEC First Team & All-Freshman team recognition, Crawford was a perfect 10-0 at No. 3 singles and 4-0 at No. 1 singles. He tied for the team-best in matches clinched (5), including the wins over Georgia and No. 1 Wake Forest. Crawford was 7-4 against nationally ranked opponents, including an upset victory over No. 5 Patrick Kypson in the NCAA Elite Eight. He and Chase Perez-Blanco combined for 23 doubles wins, which is tied for eighth most in program history, while Crawford also competed in the singles of the NCAA Individual Championships to conclude his rookie season. 

Former University of Georgia star Ellen Perez kicked off the UTR Pro Series in her home country of Australia with a title, beating Alexandra Bozovic 6-4, 6-4 in the Sydney final. Max Purcell won the men's title, beating former Illinois star Aleks Vukic 6-4, 6-4 in the final. This is the first of five events to be completed in major cities around the country. For more on their return to competitive tennis from Perez and Purcell, see this Tennis Australia article.

Tennys Sandgren and Sam Querrey will meet for the title at the Altec/Styslinger Exhibition in Miami, after both won third-set tiebreakers in today's semifinals. Sandgren defeated Brandon Nakashima 3-4(3) 4-1, 4-3(3), while Querrey took out Reilly Opelka 4-2, 2-4, 4-3(2).  Results from today's two consolation matches, and all of yesterday's first round matches can be found here. Tennis Channel will have coverage of Wednesday's four matches beginning at noon EDT.

Monday, June 29, 2020

UTR Announces National Championships Series; American Clay Court 16s Nationals Underway; Nakashima Defeats Hurkacz at Altec Styslinger Exhibition

Most of the competitive tennis that has been played in the past couple of months has been under the UTR umbrella, and the company is rolling out another series of events next month, called the UTR National Championship Series, with tournaments for College, Junior and High School competitors. Space is limited to the top 16 Universal Tennis Ratings for each Fila-sponsored event, which are often back-to-back-to-back weeks at the same location. Unlike the ITA Summer Circuit tournaments, also UTR events, the college events are scheduled mostly for Wednesday through Friday rather than weekends. Prize money is offered, with the amount varying depending on the tournament. The schedule of events is here. Today's UTR release is below.

UNIVERSAL TENNIS LAUNCHES UTR NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP SERIES

Nationwide Event Series Offers High School, Junior and Collegiate Players the Opportunity to Compete Locally And Count Globally In High Level Regional Play 

June 29, 2020 (Palo Alto, CA) - Universal Tennis (MyUTR.com) today announced the launch of its first-ever UTR National Championship Series, a new initiative for junior, high school and college athletes to compete in high level local tennis events, continue to develop their game, and have their scores count globally via the Universal Tennis Rating (UTR). 

The UTR National Championship Series features over 20 locations with more than 70 events and 2,000 matches across the United States, including California, Florida, Texas, Georgia, Missouri, Ohio, Maryland, New Jersey, New York, and Massachusetts. The series will be divided into three divisions: High School, Juniors (14’s & 16’s) and College, with events beginning July 8th and running through early August. Space is limited to the top 16 players by UTR in each division and winners of each host site will be nationally recognized by Universal Tennis as the first ever UTR National Champions. 

All UTR National Championship Series events will be organized based on a World Cup-style format, where groups of players will compete in round robin style stages and will advance to the next round based on their results. Winners of the collegiate and junior UTR National Championships will be eligible to receive prize money. The junior series will be live-streamed for college coaches on MyUTR.com to help support summer recruiting efforts. 

“The UTR National Championship Series gives young players who are eager to get back on the court a new opportunity to participate in local, high level competition that counts globally for their Universal Tennis Rating. Due to the global health crisis, players have been unable to compete for a few months, and many events have been cancelled,” said Mark Leschly, Universal Tennis Chairman & CEO. “Our partner sites are committed to following their local health and safety guidelines, while offering a fun, competitive environment for players to get back to competition, showcase their skills and return to the game they love.”  

FILA (FILA.com) will serve as the Official Apparel and Footwear Provider of the UTR National Championship Series, providing prizes for all winners across the junior, high school and collegiate divisions. In addition, FILA and Universal Tennis will work to create unique apparel and footwear offerings for all participants of the National Championships, as well as the broader UTR community. 

“We are thrilled to be partnering with Universal Tennis on the UTR National Championship Series,” said Lauren Mallon, Director of Strategic Partnerships - Tennis at FILA. “These National Championships offer players a much needed opportunity to compete in a safe, local environment, while also serving as an exceptional showcase for the FILA brand. We look forward to bringing our apparel and footwear to this talented group of players." 

 Calendar Dates:
  • College: July 8 - August 2
  • Juniors Boys & Girls (14s & 16s): July 15 - July 26
  • High School: July 29 - August 2 
Registration:
Players, coaches and parents can learn more and sign up for their local UTR National Championship Series event at MyUTR.com


The American Clay Court Nationals for the 16s age division is underway today at The Greenbrier Resort in West Virginia, after the boys qualifying was completed on Sunday. There are eight round robin groups for the boys, with just three for the girls draw, which had only 12 entries. Draws and results can be found here.
The first day of the Altec/Styslinger men's exhibition in Miami produced one big upset, with 18-year-old Brandon Nakashima(Virginia), ranked 220, beating ATP No. 29 Hubert Hurkacz of Poland 4-3(6), 4-1. Nakashima will face Tennys Sandgren(Tennessee) next, after Sandgren defeated organizer JC Aragone(Virginia) 4-1, 4-2. Sam Querrey defeated Mackenzie McDonald 4-3(5), 4-2 and will play Reilly Opelka, who saved five set points in the tiebreaker to beat Steve Johnson(USC) 4-3(9), 4-1. For additional coverage of the event, check out the @CrackedRacquets twitter feed; they are onsite in Miami for this event.

Sunday, June 28, 2020

Brady Shines in Charleston; Borges Wins Portugal Event; Evans Claims British Men's Title; What's Financial Impact of No Fans at US Open?

So many exhibition tournaments have popped up in the past couple of months that Sunday is getting to be like it was before the pandemic halted play: full of results from around the world.

I am not really following the Ultimate Tennis Showdown at the Mouratoglou Academy in Nice, because, while I have no problem with the scoring/format experimentation they are doing, I don't personally care for tennis scored as basketball, accumulating points in quarters. I gather that Stefanos Tsitsipas is leading in the standings, but there are still several more weekends of tennis left, so it may be some time before a "champion" is actually determined there.

Although rain has been a problem in Charleston South Carolina this week, I have tuning into Tennis Channel for the Credit One Bank women's tournament, which is playing the shortened format I prefer (I would rather there was no shortening, like regular ATP and WTA singles), which is advantage scoring with a tiebreaker for the third set. Former UCLA star Jennifer Brady, who was off to a great start this season before the pandemic hit, has been exceptional for Team Peace, going 4-0 this week. Last night she defeated Sloane Stephens in singles, after having also beaten Victoria Azarenka in straight sets earlier in the week. She teamed with Emma Navarro to win a doubles match on Friday, and won another doubles match today with Eugenie Bouchard as her partner. After a final rain-delayed singles match was played early this afternoon, four doubles matches are being played, with captain Bethanie Mattek-Sands' Team Peace clinching the win with two doubles matches still left to play. To follow the remaining matches, see this article at tennis.com.

Nuno Borges, the 2019 NCAA finalist as a senior at Mississippi State, won the national exhibition for Portuguese men today, beating Pedro Araujo 6-3, 6-3 in the final. The 23-year-old Borges, currently with an ATP ranking of 596, was expected to beat Araujo, who is ranked 1388; Borges' most impressive win came earlier, when he defeated ATP 66 Joao Sousa 7-6(3), 6-3. Click here to view of Borges' results in this exhibition.

Jamie Murray put together an exhibition in England billed as the Battle of the Brits, which concluded today with Dan Evans defeating Kyle Edmund 6-3, 6-2 for the title. Edmund had defeated former TCU star Cam Norrie 6-7(3), 6-4, 10-8 in the semifinals, while Evans took out Andy Murray 1-6, 6-3, 10-8. Norrie went on to take third place today; after Murray pulled out of the third place match, Norrie beat James Ward 6-3, 7-5. Murray and Neal Skupski(LSU) won the doubles title over Evans and Lloyd Glasspool(Texas).

An exhibition in the Czech Republic this week saw 2019 US Open boys champion Jonas Forejtek take the title. The 19-year-old won via a walkover in the final from Lukas Rosol. Martin Damm played in the round robin portion of the tournament, going 1-2 in his group and failing to qualify for the semifinals.

About ten days ago I submitted a sports business mailbag question to The Athletic about the financial implications of holding the US Open without fans, and I keep forgetting to post the response. Although this is not part of this question, I also want to pass along the information that the ESPN television contract requires that ATP/WTA points be distributed at the Open, which would make it impossible for the USTA to hold it as say, a US National Championship tournament, and still collect the rights fees from ESPN.

What is the loss of revenue for USTA when fans are not present at US Open? Specifically, how much do TV rights offset that? — Colette L.
Great to get a tennis question, my not-so-secret passion. The U.S. Open is one of the great financial stories in sports. Last year it attracted 850,000 over three weeks (the first week is qualifying and other events) and brought in over $300 million. More than half that comes from gate and sponsorship, most of which won’t come in this year if the event is held (the USTA plans to make its decision in the coming weeks). But there is still a lot of TV money, ESPN is in the midst of a 12-year, $825 million contract. And that does not include the many international TV deals the Open boasts (as much money comes in from foreign as domestic TV, given tennis’ international model.) There is no doubt the loss of spectators, suites, hospitality customers is a big big hit. The Open is the late summer corporate event in New York, bringing in the high rollers. — Daniel Kaplan

Saturday, June 27, 2020

JC Aragone Organizes Pro Exhibition in Miami; Changing of the Guard at Vanderbilt, Blue Chip Anzalotta to Oklahoma State, More College News; ITF Grade 1 in Canada Canceled

Former University of Virginia star JC Aragone has put together another exhibition, this one in Miami, featuring many of the top American men, and it will be broadcast on Tennis Channel for three days beginning Monday.

The event, sponsored by Altec/Styslinger, will feature five ATP Top 100 pros: No. 29 Hubert Hurkacz of Poland, the only international player in the field; No. 39 Reilly Opelka; No. 45 Sam Querrey; No. 55 Tennys Sandgren and No. 63 Steve Johnson. Rounding out the eight-man field are Aragone, Brandon Nakashima and Mackenzie McDonald. Aragone spoke with Tennis Channel's Ted Robinson about how he went about organizing the event in this clip. There's no mention of the format in the clip however. Opelka, Querrey, Sandgren and Johnson are also playing the Atlanta DraftKings All-American Team Cup exhibition, which starts on July 3rd.

Today's buzz around college tennis centered on a posting for the women's head coaching job at Vanderbilt, which has been Geoff Macdonald's position for the past 26 years. Parsa Nemati reported this afternoon that associate head coach Aleke Tsoubanos, who has been at Vanderbilt for 13 years, will be taking over as head coach, but Macdonald will stay on. An official announcement from Vanderbilt is expected Monday.

Blue chip Lauren Anzalotta of Puerto Rico, a recent graduate, has signed with Oklahoma State for this fall. Anzalotta, currently at 66 in the ITF junior rankings, just two points off her career high of 64, has been among the Tennis Recruiting Network's Top 20 in the class of 2020 for the past three years.

Four-star recruit Hailey Stelse will be joining the Air Force Academy this fall.

Abilene Christian graduate Jonathan Sheehy will join Oklahoma as a graduate transfer.

Princeton graduate Payton Holden will join Texas as a graduate transfer.

Texas Tech announced that seniors Jackson Cobb and Bjorn Thomson will not be returning for a fifth season. This information is really appreciated, but not all schools have done this kind of release, meaning that 2020-21 rosters, many not yet out, are going to be the only official information. Bobby Knight of College Tennis Today has been keeping track of these fifth year seniors and graduate transfers, by conference, in this google document.

Parsa Nemati continues to provide updates on signings, many of which have not yet been posted on the schools' athletic website, at his Parsa Bombs (@ParsaBombs) twitter feed. All the latest of these announcements are available here.

The ITF has yet to release its new calendar for August, but when I went took a look today at the list of junior events for that month, I noticed for the first time that the Grade 1 in Repentigny Quebec, the tournament that is the week before the US Open Junior Championships, has been canceled. I'm told that is due to the restrictions that Quebec announced many months ago regarding events through August, and I would imagine that the cancellation has been out there for some time, because the US Open Junior Championships are not showing as canceled, although that was official back on June 17. The ITF Grade 1 in College Park, which I have covered onsite since 2014, is still a possibility according to the latest information I have received.

Friday, June 26, 2020

My Interview with Iowa's Blue Chip Recruit Alexa Noel; NCAA D-I Dead Period Extended Through August; TIU Bans Former Tulsa Player for Seven Years; Saving College Tennis


Earlier this month I had an opportunity to talk with 2019 Wimbledon girls finalist Alexa Noel about her decision to join the Iowa Hawkeyes this fall and the result is this Tennis Recruiting Network article.

When speaking with Noel and Iowa head coach Sasha Schmid, I learned that all this came together in the past few months, with Noel shifting gears after the pandemic shutdown continued month after month. The 17-year-old from New Jersey had won her first ITF World Tennis Tournament this year, and was expecting to play only pro events to build her WTA ranking, although she told me she might have played a junior slam this summer. When all that went out the window, Noel got in touch with Schmid, who had attended University of Iowa at roughly the same time as Noel's mother Juree. A chance to play, which she didn't feel was likely this fall on the Pro Circuit, a chance to make a real difference in a program, and her family connections in Iowa led Noel to sign with the Hawkeyes.

Noel has never been on the Iowa campus, and she was unable to take a visit prior to committing due to the dead period the NCAA has imposed since canceling competition in March. Although current student-athletes have begun returning to campuses this month, prospective student-athletes are not allowed to visit, and there has been no in-person recruiting allowed in any sport. Yesterday the NCAA again extended that dead period, which is usually only a few weeks each year, through the end of August. Division I college coaches are not allowed to attend tournaments or practices or make home visits. The USTA had already ruled against allowing college coaches at the August 16s and 18s National Championships when it announced the sites on June 15th; this NCAA announcement makes that ruling moot.

The Tennis Integrity Unit announced today that Majed Kilani has been banned from tennis for seven years and fined $7000 after being convicted of match fixing at a Futures event in Egypt in 2016. The 23-year from Tunisia, who played at the University of Tulsa from 2015-2019, has a current ATP rank of 804. The full TIU release is here.

Lisa Stone at Parenting Aces has been following the demise of college tennis programs closely this past few months, and she has written an important post that explores in detail the issues confronting the sport. She also provides a link to a recent roundtable discussion on college tennis' problems that features reporter Andy Katz, ITA CEO Tim Russell and the USTA's Tim Cass.

Thursday, June 25, 2020

Colby and Honer Win American Clay Court 18s Nationals at The Greenbrier; Draws Posted for First Two ITA Summer Circuit Events, Summer Circuit Coming to Michigan; Brady Defeats Azarenka in Charleston


The finals of the American Clay Court 18s Nationals were played this afternoon at The Greenbrier, with Ryan Colby taking the boys title and Amelia Honer winning the girls tournament.
Colby, a blue chip recruit in the class of 2022, defeated five-star Liam Krall 2-6, 6-0, 6-4 after beating blue chip Michael Zheng 4-6, 7-6(3), 6-4 in a morning semifinal. Krall received a walkover from Eric Li in the other boys semifinal. Colby takes home the $750 first prize, while Krall earns $325.  Zheng and Nicolas Kotzen won the doubles title, beating Frank Thompson and Chase Robinson 8-2.

The boys draw had 44 participants, but the girls draw had only 24, so there was no qualifying for them. Five-star Amelia Honer, who had the second highest UTR in the draw, defeated four-star Kavya Patel  7-6(1), 6-4 in the final. Honer, a rising senior who has verbally committed to UC-Santa Barbara, defeated five-star Vennmukiil Mathivanan 7-5, 6-3 in the semifinals, while Patel beat four-star Maggie Gehrig 6-1, 6-2. The result of the girls doubles final hasn't yet been posted. Honer earned $750 and Patel $325.

The 16s American Clay Court Nationals begin Sunday, also at The Greenbrier. At the close of entries Tuesday, there were 41 boys entries and 12 girls entries.

The ITA Summer Circuit's first two tournaments are set to begin on Friday and Saturday, in California and Georgia.  The Atlanta-area tournament is being played at two sites with more than 140 players in five flights for men and similar numbers for women. Two rising college sophomores, Georgia Tech's Andres Martin and South Carolina's Emma Shelton, are the top seeds in the A Flights. Shelton's younger brother Ben is the No. 2 seed in Flight A, while Allie Gretkowski, a South Carolina recruit, is the No. 2 seed in the girls Flight A.  The draws are here.

The California tournament at the Weil Academy in Ojai and two other sites in Ojai, was scheduled after the cancellation of the two events, last weekend and this weekend, in Long Beach. The tournament, which starts Friday, has more than 64 players registered in both the men's and women's divisions, with Fresno State senior Alexey Aleshchev the top seed in the men's Flight 1 and Vanderbilt rising freshman Anessa Lee the top seed in the women's Flight 1.

Speaking of the ITA Summer Circuit, I was excited to see that a new event for July 18-20 has been added in the Grand Rapids Michigan area, so I will be seeing some live tennis after all this summer. Tom Walker, a longtime junior development coach in Kalamazoo and Lansing, purchased a club in Grand Rapids a couple of years ago and has been hosting many tournaments at that indoor facility. There are no outdoor courts however, so the tournament site is expected to be Hudsonville. I'm not familiar with that facility, but I'm looking forward to getting to know it next month. Registration is open for that event, and other sites have been added, so check out the latest list from the ITA here.

The Credit One Bank Invitational in Charleston has had plenty of rain delays in its first two days and another one at the beginning of today's action, but all of the one-point matches are now complete, with former UCLA star Jennifer Brady beating former world No. 1 Victoria Azarenka 6-3, 6-2.  Brady spoke with Diane Dees last week about her preparation for the event and how she spent her time during the pandemic layoff. Madison Keys defeated Caroline Dolehide 6-1, 6-7(6), 10-4 in the final one-point match, with two two-point matches still to come tonight.  For updates, see tennis.com.

Wednesday, June 24, 2020

Three More Division I Programs Get Axe Today; Wheelchair Tennis Added to US Open; Atlanta Men's Event with Fans Set for July; Ram's College Coaching Plan

A day after Southern Utah announced the discontinuation of its men's and women's tennis programs, two more Division I schools have cut their teams, with the University of Connecticut dropping its men's program and Northern Colorado eliminated its men's and women's programs.

Connecticut, which has had financial problems in its Athletic Department for some time, cut men's cross country, women's rowing, men's swimming & diving and men's tennis, while women's tennis continues. Bobby Knight of College Tennis Today says that there are no athletic scholarships at U Conn for the men (I don't understand why, less than two weeks ago, they announced three incoming freshmen), which makes this cut even more puzzling. If all your student-athletes are paying tuition, how much does eliminating the program really save? The savings aren't broken out, but $2 million for four sports over three years is not a significant part of the athletic department budget, and yet this is what they say about fundraising to keep these programs:

Q:  How much private fundraising would allow you to keep some or all these programs?
A:  Private fundraising is not a sustainable solution. Even with a reduced number of programs for our student-athletes, fundraising will still need to be a major revenue source for those remaining programs.

In other words, women's tennis could be next in the crosshairs, if Title IX regulations allow it.


Northern Colorado, like Southern Utah, is a member of the Big Sky conference, which is quite regional in nature. But apparently the conference recently gave its members permission to cut certain sports and still retain the conference affiliation, with both programs citing that change in their decision. Northern Colorado does not have an indoor facility, and that is also given as a reason for the cuts.

The updated list of Division I programs cut this year:
Akron (W) 
Appalachian State (M) 
Arkansas Pine Bluff (M/W) 
East Carolina (M/W) 
Florida A&M (M) 
Kansas City (M)
Northern Colorado (M/W)
Southern Utah (M/W) 
U Conn (M)
USC Upstate (M/W) 
UW Green Bay (M/W) 
Valparaiso (M) 
Winthrop (M/W) 
Wright State (M/W)

De Groot won the US Open Wheelchair title in 2018 and 2019
A bright spot in tennis news today comes from the USTA, which announced that the Wheelchair Tennis competition, initially presented as canceled last week, has been reinstated, and will be played September 10-13. The announcement is below:

The 2020 US Open Wheelchair Tennis Competition will be held in its traditional place on the US Open calendar at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center this September. The tournament will run from Sept. 10-13.

This decision was made following multiple virtual meetings with a group of wheelchair athletes and the International Tennis Federation over the last week. The 2020 US Open Wheelchair Competition will feature men’s and women’s singles and doubles events and quad singles and doubles events, all with draw sizes similar to past US Opens.

Wheelchair athletes will follow the same health and safety procedures as all players participating in the US Open and will be able to access the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center beginning on Sept. 7.

The ITF is carefully reviewing the impact of this evolving situation related to awarding wheelchair ranking points in regards to the UNIQLO Wheelchair Tennis Tour. The USTA expects a decision to be announced in the coming days.


The ATP's summer tournament in Atlanta has of course been canceled, but the city will host a smaller cohort of players July 3-5, with the eight participants in the team event all from the United States. There will be two teams, with John Isner, Tennys Sandgren, Sam Querrey and Steve Johnson on one and Taylor Fritz, Reilly Opelka, Tommy Paul and Frances Tiafoe on the other. Although they are being called the Stars and Stripes teams, they really have been divided by age.  The big news is paying fans will be allowed, up to 450 per match, making this the first event in the US that will have them, although there is a women's pro event in Kentucky that same weekend which will also have fans present.  For more on the event, called the DraftKings All-American Team Cup, see this Forbes article. Its last sentence is a cautionary one. (Update: the article has since been modified; I am talking about the Georgia Covid-19 update). 

I mentioned on Saturday that Rajeev Ram has been named a volunteer assistant at Cal; Rhiannon Potkey has more details on Ram's plans for the coming year and how he plans to work with the Bears while still competing on the ATP doubles circuit in this Tennis Recruiting Network article.

Tuesday, June 23, 2020

Novak Djokovic Tests Positive for Covid-19; USTA President Galbraith on US Open; D-I Southern Utah Drops Men's and Women's Tennis; Fernandez Beats Navarro in French Open Girls Final Rematch

There is really only one story in tennis today, with the announcement from World No. 1 Novak Djokovic that he has tested positive for the Covid-19 virus. His wife also tested positive; their two children tested negative.  As the world's top player, the head of the ATP Player Council and the organizer of the Adria Tour that appears to be the nexus of the outbreak that now has sickened four ATP pros, Djokovic is now facing inevitable scrutiny about his judgment and what it means for the future of not only his career, but that of the sport itself.

Alarms were sounded from the first day of Adria Tour matches, which featured no concessions to the pandemic that has been raging for nearly six months. In his announcement of his positive test, Djokovic didn't offer much in the way of contrition, but in a second statement this evening said:  

I am so deeply sorry our tournament has caused harm. Everything the organisers and I did the past month, we did with a pure heart and sincere intentions.

“We believed the tournament met all health protocols and the health of our region seemed in good condition to finally unite people for philanthropic reasons.

“We were wrong and it was too soon.

“If you attended Adria Tour or were around any attendees, please get tested and practice social distancing.

“I pray for everyone's full recovery.”


The self-centered focus of a professional athlete, particularly a tennis player, is hardly a shock, but for all the accomplishments that produces, it does have a downside, which we've certainly seen here. SI.com's Jon Wertheim likens it to a Greek tragedy in his reaction, Steve Tignor also weighs in on the limits of confidence in this article at tennis.com.

The three pro tournaments scheduled for August and September in the United States are not helped by these developments and the steady number of cases still being diagnosed, but as of now, they are still on.  The USTA Eastern section recorded a conversation with USTA President Patrick Galbraith, who was not on last week's US Open media conference call, and he remains optimistic about those events. Tennis Now has this recap of the conversation, which includes a link to the full interview.

Another Division I school has discontinued its tennis programs, with Southern Utah making their announcement today. The school did not have a long tradition of tennis, starting programs in 2012, when it joined the Big Sky conference. As the announcement states, they will have 15 sports programs remaining, one more than the NCAA requirement for maintaining Division I status. Scholarships will be honored for those who wish to stay at the school.

Bobby Knight of College Tennis Today tweeted the Division I schools who have dropped tennis in 2020; not all are related to Covid-19.  I'll keep adding to this list, which is certain to grow over the next few months.
Akron (W) Appalachian State (M) Arkansas Pine Bluff (M/W) East Carolina (M/W) Florida A&M (M) Kansas City (M) Southern Utah (M/W) USC Upstate (M/W) UW Green Bay (M/W) Valparaiso (M) Winthrop (M/W) Wright State (M/W)

The Credit One Bank Invitational, the women's team exhibition in Charleston South Carolina, is underway, and I had an opportunity to watch it this afternoon on Tennis Channel.  Held on the site of the Volvo Car Open, but without any spectators, it obviously didn't have any of the atmosphere of a regular tour event, but several things contributed to it being more watchable than some of the previous exhibitions. Most notably, for me, was the format, which was regular advantage scoring (I assume a third set is a tiebreaker, but both matches I watched were completed in straight sets).  With all the Fast 4 events recently, it was terrific to get back to normal, watching the tension develop in a lengthy game. There actually weren't too many of those long games, with Sofia Kenin beating Alison Riske 6-1, 6-1 and Leylah Fernandez defeating Emma Navarro 6-4, 6-0, but it helped me take the results seriously.

Ted Robinson and Tracy Austin provided the commentary, there were ballrunners with tubes so that they didn't have to handle the balls, and each player had a whole section of the stadium to serve as their own player lounge. Players called their own lines, which has proven to be much less disruptive than I had thought it would be.

All of the precautions helped to quell the fears that the disastrous Adria Tour had raised, but that doesn't guarantee a Covid-free event, and I'm sure everyone in tennis has their fingers crossed that nothing goes wrong during the next five days in Charleston.

Tennis.com has coverage of the event here, including a video interview with Fernandez, who won the rematch of last year's French Open girls final against Navarro. Navarro is scheduled to start her collegiate career at Virginia this fall.