Tuesday, May 11, 2021

US Teams Out of ITF's Junior Davis and Billie Jean King Cups, World Junior Tennis Competitions; Big 12 Conference Awards; US Teens Awarded Wild Cards at Bonita Springs $100K

A couple of weeks ago the ITF announced that the Junior Davis Cup and Junior Billie Jean King Cup, its 16-and-under international team event, would be held in Turkey this fall, with that country substituting for the USTA, who was supposed to hold the event in 2019, 2020 and 2021. Of course last year both events were canceled, as was the ITF World Junior Tennis team competition for 14-and-under players, and I have yet to hear anything regarding the status of WJT, which usually takes place at the beginning of August. 

I asked the USTA if they had heard anything about that, and I received the following response:

"Due to the ongoing situation surrounding COVID-19, the USTA has made the decision to withdraw from the 2021 ITF Junior Team Competition in Mexico for the U14 event (Junior World Championship) and the U16 event (Junior BJK / Davis Cup). The decision was made with the health and safety of our players and staff as the primary and ultimate concern."

I'm not sure why I so surprised by that, given the extreme caution the USTA has displayed throughout the past 14 months, but it is a shame that the top players from the 2005 and 2007 birth years will not get an opportunity to compete on that international stage. I know it is a highlight for many when they look back on their junior careers, with team events featuring a different kinds of pressure and rewards from what they are accustomed to in standard junior events.

The Big 12 conference announced its awards and all-tournament teams today for both men and women, with the Pac-12 now the only Power 5 conference still to release these honors. For the other conferences, see this post, and this post. You'll notice that the Big 12's Newcomer of the Year awards went to a graduate transfer and a junior transfer, while the SEC confined their NOYs to sophomores. The ACC and Big Ten don't offer that category.

BIG 12
Coach of the Year: Bruce Berque, Texas
Player of the Year: Luc Fomba, TCU
Newcomer of the Year: Charlie Broom, Baylor
Freshman of the Year: Micah Braswell, Texas

Coach of the Year: Boomer Saia, Iowa State
Player of the Year: Bunyawi Thamchaiwat, Oklahoma State
Newcomer of the Year: Kaitlin Staines, Texas Tech
Freshman of the Year: Peyton Stearns, Texas

In other Division I college tennis news today, Chris Wooten, who has been the interim head women's coach at Missouri, has been named to the position permanently.  Also, St. Thomas, which is moving from Division III to Division I, announced that it is dropping its men's and women's tennis programs in the transition. Division I Long Island University announced that it is adding a men's tennis program.

Qualifying was completed today at the $100,000 USTA Women's Pro Circuit tournament in Bonita Springs Florida, with Alycia Parks, Hanna Chang and Vicky Duval the Americans to earn their way into the main draw. 

Claire Liu is taking a well-deserved week off after back-to-back titles on the Pro Circuit, but Charleston finalist Madison Brengle is playing and is, as she was in the previous two events, the top seed. Australian Astra Sharma(Vanderbilt), who is back after three weeks off following her first WTA title in Charleston, is the No. 2 seed.

The wild cards all went to teenagers: Robin Montgomery, 16, who plays Brengle in the first round; Katie Volynets, 19, Hailey Baptiste, 19, and Ashlyn Krueger, 17. Volynets is the only one of the four who did not draw a seed.