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.