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Wednesday, January 11, 2023

NCAA Announces Two-Year Pilot Moving D-I Individual Tournament to Fall; Eleven Americans Advance to Australian Open Final Round Qualifying; Tennis.com Features Gage Brymer; USC's Bonfiglio to Penn

The NCAA Division I Competition Oversight Committee released its decision today regarding the recommendation by the ITA that the individual tournaments be moved from the spring, where they currently immediately follow the team championships, to the fall, beginning in 2024. The decision is being framed as a two-year pilot program, to be evaluated after 2025. The locations have yet to be determined. I'll have more on this topic in my annual Intriguing Questions column for Tennis Recruiting Network late next week. The NCAA release:

The Division I Competition Oversight Committee approved a two-year pilot program to hold the Division I men's and women's individual tennis championships in the fall of 2024 and 2025.

The Division I men's and women's team championships will continue to be held in the spring both years.

The Division I Men's and Women's Tennis Committee will evaluate the championships to see what the best path is for the Division I Men's and Women's Tennis Championships at the completion of the pilot program.

Part of the rationale for the decision to hold the Division I individual tennis championships in the fall involves student-athlete well-being.

Under the current format, tennis student-athletes in both the team and individual championships can compete for nine days in a row. Student-athletes only in the individual championships may wait up to three weeks from the end of the regular season until they compete again.

Student-athletes withdraw after selection and during the championships due to injury. Some student-athletes also withdraw directly after selection or after losing in the team tournament.

The Division I Competition Oversight Committee also hopes the modification can help the student-athlete experience by maintaining or boosting attendance at the events.

It is hoped that broadcast opportunities may occur, which would allow student-athletes to showcase their talent in the individual singles and doubles championships.

The Intercollegiate Tennis Association, which is the coaches association for college tennis, and the United States Tennis Association collaborated on a survey with the Division I Men's and Women's Tennis Committee that showed 68% of the respondents favored the individual tennis championships shifting to the fall.

Eleven of the 27 Americans who began Australian Open qualifying Monday are still playing as the third and final round begins Thursday(tonight in the US). Unfortunately, that doesn't include top seed Alycia Parks, who lost to 16-year-old Sara Bejlek of the Czech Republic, who is still entered in the Australian Open Junior Championships. Bejlek is one of a host of young players reaching the final round of qualifying, including Jerry Shang(CHN), Brenda Fruhvirtova(CZE), Victoria Jimenez Kasintseva(AND), Erika Andreeva(RUS), Eva Lys(GER) and Diana Shnaider(RUS). Shnaider defeated Robin Montgomery 6-4, 6-4 Wednesday to reach the final round, where the NC State freshman will face fellow Russian Anastasia Tikhonova. 
Here are the matchups for the Americans:
Final round Australian Open Qualifying

Denis Kudla[6] v Oleksii Krutykh(UKR)
Ernesto Escobedo v Pavel Kotov[11](RUS)
Michael Mmoh[9] v Aleks Vukic[21](AUS)
Brandon Holt v Marco Trungelliti(ARG)
Emilio Nava v Nicolas Jarry(CHI)

Sachia Vickery v Lucrezia Stefanini(ITA)
Elli Mandlik[21] v Anna Karolina Schmiedlova(SVK)[3]
Sophie Chang v Oksana Selekhmeteva(RUS)
Katie Volynets[11] v Kristina Mladenovic(FRA)
Asia Muhammad v Polina Kudermetova(RUS)
CoCo Vandeweghe[23] v Yuriko Lily Miyazaki(GBR)

One bit of advice I would give to anyone who follows tennis is "read Joel Drucker." I've known Joel since I began this website, and I've always admired how he manages to consistently address what I call the soul of tennis in his articles for tennis.com.  His recent trip to the Malibu $25K produced this article about former UCLA star Gage Brymer and the challenges he's faced since embarking on a professional career.  There's no doubt that every player on the Pro Circuit has a compelling story, but that doesn't detract from the effort that Drucker puts into telling Brymer's, which is both unique and representative. 

After I posted last night I learned that the vacant men's head coaching position at the University of Pennsylvania was filled, with USC assistant Rich Bonfiglio tapped for the job.  Bonfiglio was at USC for just one season, 2021-2022, after coming to Los Angeles from Columbia, so he is returning to the Ivy League, this time as a head coach. USC head coach Brett Masi is quoted in the Penn release; he doesn't mention any particular players, but Masi lauds Bonfiglio's recruiting skills, which helped the Trojans land 2022 Kalamazoo 18s champion Learner Tien last month.