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Tuesday, June 15, 2021

Men's and Women's $25K USTA Pro Circuit Tournaments Underway in Tulsa and Sumter; Kickoff Weekend Draft Begins with Women Wednesday; Florida State Named Host of ITA Summer National Championships

The men have had opportunities to compete in the US throughout the French Open, but the women have not, with three weeks between their last event in Pelham Alabama and this week's $25,000 tournament in Sumter South Carolina. As is typical this time of year, college players are prominent in both the qualifying and main draws.

Qualifying in Sumter is now complete, with four Americans advancing to the main draw: Ellie Douglas(TCU), Ivana Corley(Oklahoma), Amy Zhu(Michigan) and Anastasia Nefedova. Douglas and Corley will meet in the first round of the main draw on Wednesday.

The top seeds are Conny Perrin of Switzerland and Alycia Parks, with wild cards going to Ahmani Guichard, Alexandra Yepifanova, Peyton Stearns and Emma Charney.  Three main draw matches were played today, in addition to the final round of qualifying, with Parks defeating Sofia Shapatava of Georgia 7-6(5), 6-3, Sophie Chang beating No. 3 seed Gabriela Ce of Brazil 6-7(5), 7-5, 7-5 in three hours and 19 minutes and Charney losing to former Kentucky star Aldila Sutjiadi of Indonesia 6-2, 6-2. 

According to this local article, no fans are allowed to watch in Sumter. The lack of any consistency when it comes to these decisions has been frustrating; the Little Rock Arkansas Challenger had fans, and not just a few, two weeks ago, while none were allowed at the Orlando Challenger the following week. This obviously has nothing to do with local policies, as the NCAAs had large crowds for the team championships at the same site, the USTA National Campus, as the Challenger. I don't see how tennis can continue to market itself as the safe pandemic sport and then not allow people to watch outdoor matches in places where every other form of entertainment has returned to normal.

The men are in Tulsa, where the heat interrupted play before the last qualifying match could be completed. So far, Americans qualifying are Michael Shabaz(Virginia), Ryan Shane(Virginia), Zeke Clark(Illinois) and Trent Bryde(Georgia). Nathan Ponwith(Arizona State) led Axel Nefve(Notre Dame) 6-4, 4-4 when the match was stopped due to the heat.

The top seed in the main draw is Hiroki Moriya of Japan, with Jason Kubler of Australia the No. 2 seed. Wild cards were given to last week's champion in Wichita Govind Nanda(UCLA), John McNally(Ohio State), Kiranpal Pannu(Columbus State) of New Zealand and Sam Riffice(Florida). Patrick Kypson(Texas A&M), who lost to Nanda in the final in Wichita, received a special exemption into the main draw.

The annual ITA Kickoff Weekend Draft is back to its normal spot on the calendar, with the women's draft Wednesday at noon eastern and the men's draft Tuesday at the same time. Due to the lack of play in the Northeast the past two years, the ITA has made adjustments, which is explained in this article.

SLAM tennis will again be providing coverage of the selections. The women's selections can be found here; the men's selections here.

On Monday, the ITA announced the site of its Summer National Championships, which had been played in Texas the past four years, after many years in Indiana. This year's event will be hosted by Florida State, August 6-10.  There is a 32-player qualifying draw, with five places in the 64-player main draw reserved for the Summer Circuit race winners and two Florida State wild cards. UTR will be used for the remaining at-large selections. For more on the schedule and format, see this article.

The ITA Summer Circuit kicks off this weekend at ten sites across the country, and registration is open for many of the venues hosting in the next six weeks. For a list of tournaments and links, see the ITA website.