Wednesday, December 19, 2018

Stanford's Gordon, TCU's Rybakov Win USTA's Blizzard Wild Card Challenge; USTA Announces Agreement with Tennis Channel for Permanent Production at National Campus

Stanford's Michaela Gordon (photo courtesy USTA)
After three plus weeks covering the major junior events in Florida, I'm ready for a break, so posts over the next week will be brief. With no ITF junior events and no USTA Pro Circuit events, there's actually a bit of an "off-season" over the holidays, at least until the USTA Winter Nationals begin on December 27 (12s and 14s in Tucson) and December 29 (16s and 18s in Lake Nona).

The USTA's National Campus has been a busy place recently, with the Wild Card Challenge for invited American collegians taking place there from December 15-18.  Stanford sophomore Michaela Gordon and TCU senior Alex Rybakov won the titles, with Gordon defeating Duke sophomore Kelly Chen 3-6, 6-4, 6-0 and Rybakov downing USC junior Brandon Holt 6-2, 6-1.  Sam Riffice of Florida and Keegan Smith of UCLA were the other two men to advance to the semifinals via the round robin competition, with Pepperdine's Ashley Lahey and Gonzaga's Sophie Whittle the two women's semifinalists.

The winners receive wild cards into Challenger-level events, with Rybakov now in the main draw of the Orlando Challenger which begins December 31st in Lake Nona. Gordon will receive a main draw wild card into a $60,000 women's Pro Circuit event in the future. Both have also received spots on the USTA's National Collegiate Team.

The complete round robin results can be found here.

The USTA announced today that it has entered into an agreement with the Tennis Channel to construct and operate a permanent production facility at the National Campus in Lake Nona. The complete release, below, mentions the rights to distribute a number of USTA events played in other locations, which I assume could include Kalamazoo, although I am just speculating.  More information on the American Tennis Showcase mentioned below is here, although the weather Thursday may not cooperate, with rain in the forecast.

ORLANDO, Fla., December 19, 2018The USTA and Tennis Channel today announced an agreement to partner on the construction and operation of a permanent broadcast facility at the USTA National Campus in order to produce live coverage of USTA professional, collegiate, adult and junior level events on a year-round basis. The agreement also grants Tennis Channel the rights to distribute a number of USTA events played in other locations.
The relationship will help to elevate the profile of programming held at the USTA National Campus, giving visibility to the variety of events, initiatives, matches and competitions held throughout the year. In a similar fashion, this partnership will provide Tennis Channel with diverse and original live content for broadcast, with direct access and a behind-the-scenes look at news about both the community and professional sides of the game. The USTA National Campus serves as the national training center for elite American professional and junior players.

As part of the partnership, which runs through 2022, Tennis Channel will air matches and additional programming from USTA Pro Circuit tournaments, College MatchDays and USTA League, Wheelchair and Junior National Championships on linear television, a number of which will take place at the USTA National Campus.

The partnership officially begins this week with Tennis Channel’s live coverage of the USTA’s American Tennis Showcase Thursday, Dec. 20, at 6 p.m. ET, a celebration of the sport’s promising stars. Tennis Channel will bring the three-hour showcase to a nationwide audience with longtime network announcer Brett Haber, who will be joined by Hall of Famer Jim Courier and renowned sportscaster Mary Carillo.

“The USTA National Campus was built with the vision that it would be a stage for fans and players alike to engage with many levels of our sport in new and traditional ways,” said Gordon Smith, USTA Executive Director and CEO. “This partnership with Tennis Channel gives us new, high-quality content with which to reach a wider audience and give fans unique ways to interact with the sport.”

“We’re excited about this evolution in the Tennis Channel-USTA partnership, and the countless opportunities the National Campus provides for growing our sport with audiences of all ages,” said Ken Solomon, President, Tennis Channel. “Having this full-time production presence at Lake Nona is a breakthrough moment for tennis in covering these types of competitions regularly and showcasing the wealth of great tennis that exists throughout the country for the first time ever.”

To assist in production, Tennis Channel is partnering with Full Sail University in Winter Park, Fla., to oversee a student-run production model in support of events and year-round reporting from the National Campus. A rotating group of students will work in a variety of areas, giving them a unique hands-on experience in event broadcasting and production.

Earlier this year, Tennis Channel aired five College MatchDays between top NCAA Division I programs from the National Campus, the first live college tennis series in Tennis Channel’s history. In addition, multiple USTA Pro Circuit and Junior tennis matches were shown in 2018 on Tennis Channel.

Additionally, Tennis Channel will have access to the USTA footage library, which includes archival US Open content, as well as select footage from US Open Series events.


R Tank said...

B holt over Taylor Fritz 4,4 in the California Open.. Holt just lost in the USTA Blizzard Challenge in Lake Nona, on Dec 18....lost to TCU Alex Rybakov 2,1...and then came to the other coast and beat the # 49 ATP in the World 4,4 today, dec 20th.....really??:))