Wednesday, June 10, 2020

Noel Commits to Iowa; ITF Announces Support for Juniors, Lower-ranked Players; Long Beach ITA Summer Circuit Events Canceled; ATP Conflicted on US Open

Alexa Noel, the 2019 Wimbledon girls finalist, has signed with the University of Iowa and will join the Hawkeyes this fall. Noel, 17, who last played a junior event at the 2019 US Open, has been as high as No. 4 in the ITF World Junior rankings. The New Jersey resident, who has family ties to Iowa, is certainly the most accomplished recruit in Hawkeye women's tennis history.  I will be talking with Noel about her choice of Iowa later this month for the Tennis Recruiting Network.

The ITF today released details of its support for the lower levels of professional tennis and for juniors. Specifics on the former are below:

Players Ranked 501-700
Having previously contributed to the joint Player Relief Programme for players inside the top 500, the ITF has made an additional $350,000 available to support players ranked ATP/WTA 501 – 700 in singles and/or 176-300 in doubles. The funding will be distributed in the form of development grants to eligible players via National Associations, with singles players ranked 501–600 receiving $1,000, and doubles players ranked 176 – 300 and singles players ranked 601-700 receiving $750.

The information on the juniors is not nearly as specific:

Junior Players
Ensuring there is a pathway and opportunity for the most talented young players to rise up the professional ladder is a fundamental mission of the ITF. A portion of the fund made available to National Associations will be distributed as grants to support tournaments and enable eligible junior players to participate in regional events.

Whether that means, for example, the USTA will provide funds to individual players to play in regional events, or more likely, that the USTA will use the funds to help fund the ITF tournaments in the US, is not clear. There are four major ITF events still on calendar, as of now, in the US: the Grade 1 in College Park Maryland in August, the Grade B1 Pan American Closed, in Nicholasville Kentucky in October, the Grade 1 Eddie Herr in Bradenton Florida in November and the Grade A Orange Bowl in Plantation Florida in December.

The full ITF release is here.

The ITA Summer Circuit was scheduled to kick off next weekend, but the first tournament will be delayed by a week with the cancellation of the two events at the El Dorado Club in Long Beach California. California has seen an uptick in Covid-19 cases recently, and according to the ITA website,"Public health officials have officially decided that this event should not move forward."

While that is not good news, and an important reminder that all tournaments scheduled for this summer are precarious at best, there are several other ITA Summer Circuit events currently taking entries, including two in Week 3 (July 4-6) and two in Week 4 (July 11-13). With the first week's event now canceled, the Week 2 (June 27-29) event in Georgia will be the official opener, and they have expanded their draws to 128 and added an additional location to accommodate the demand. The women's event is already oversubscribed, even with the expansion.

The status of the US Open is expected to be announced early next week, but there is currently no consensus as to whether the ATP is likely to support holding the event under the current conditions set by the USTA. With Roger Federer announcing he has had a setback in his rehabilitation and is not planning to play again until 2021, and Nadal and Djokovic reluctant to commit to playing in New York in September, the USTA has a lot of fires to put out before next week's announcement. On her Open Court website, Stephanie Myles has a detailed look at the conflicts surfacing in the ATP membership right now regarding the US Open.