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Wednesday, December 21, 2016

My USTA National Campus Sneak Peek; Patrick McEnroe Joins John McEnroe Tennis Academy as Co-Director; ITA Convention Report; Kirkov Reaches Quarterfinals at Puerto Rico Futures

On my way north from Florida back to Michigan, I stopped at the USTA National Campus in Lake Nona, which officially opens on January 2, 2017.

Team USA Courts at the USTA's National Campus

There are still many construction workers on site, today primarily installing windscreens and working to complete the on-site cafe, but many of the facilities, including the USTA offices in the Welcome Center and the Player Development courts and fitness center, are already in use.  I spotted Reilly Opelka and Sam Riffice on one court, and Louisa Chirico, Christina McHale, Jennifer Brady and Irina Falconi on another. Frances Tiafoe, Bjorn Fratangelo and the Bryan brothers were among those working out in the gym this morning.

I'll have more from today's tour for the Tennis Recruiting Network early next month, but it may take me all the next two weeks to absorb what I saw today. It's a large facility, built to serve all facets of American tennis, and that scope is beyond what I'm accustomed to seeing in any one place.

Although his reluctance to move to Lake Nona was one of the primary reasons Patrick McEnroe is no longer the USTA's General Manager of Player Development, he is returning to player development on a smaller scale as co-director of the John McEnroe Tennis Academy in New York, it was announced today.  McEnroe will now share duties with Lawrence Kleger, who has been director of tennis since 2012.

I wasn't able to attend the ITA Convention in Naples this year, due to my coverage of the Orange Bowl and Junior Orange Bowl, but Bobby Knight of College Tennis Today did make the trip, and posted this recap of the various topics discussed and changes coming for Division I tennis.

While there have been no USTA Pro Circuit events in the past two weeks, many American men played in the Dominican Republic last week and are playing in Puerto Rico this week.  Evan King swept the titles at last week's $10,000 Futures. The former Michigan All-American, who was the No. 3 seed, defeated top seed Calvin Hemery of France 6-4, 7-6(9) in the singles final. King and Alexios Halebian won the doubles title, with the No. 3 seeds defeating No. 4 seeds Nebojsa Peric and Ilija Vucic of Serbia 6-4,6-4 in the final.

King, the No. 1 seed this week, has reached the quarterfinals of this week's $10,000 Futures in Puerto Rico, as has University of Virginia senior Thai Kwiatkowski and 17-year-old Kalamazoo 18s finalist Vasil Kirkov, who play each other on Thursday. Former UNC star Brayden Schnur of Canada, who won the Tallahassee Futures two weeks ago, has also advanced to the quarterfinals, with Florida State alum Benjamin Lock of Zimbabwe also into the final eight.