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Wednesday, March 8, 2023

Universal Tennis Announces NIT Tournament in May; South Carolina Men Beat Ohio State in Top Five Battle; Kang Withdraws from Indian Wells, San Diego J300s; Giron, Nakashima Advance at BNP Paribas Open

Universal Tennis may no longer be working with the ITA, but they have not abandoned college tennis. To the contrary, since the ITA announced that they would be adopting the ITF's World Tennis Number at the start of the year, Universal Tennis has introduced several new college tennis initiatives: the formation of the Universal Tennis Collegiate Alliancea return of the $100,000 Hurd grants; a collegiate event next year in Australia, and in the past few days, the new UTCA executive committee of college coaches and the National Intercollegiate Tennis Championships.

The NIT will feature eight men's and eight women's teams and is scheduled to be played in Atlanta on the same days as the NCAA Division I team championships: May 17-20. The release does not spell out the criteria for selection, other than to say the teams will be chosen by the "NIT tournament committee, with the Teams UTR Power 6 ranking among the top criteria for consideration."

 That probably means that only Division I teams will be selected, and from what John Parsons has tweeted, Division I teams who participate in the NCAAs, even if they lose in the first round of regional qualifying, are not eligible. 

The tournament will be streamed, free of charge, to customers of Amazon Prime, where matches from the UTR Pro Tennis Tour are now also available

I'm not sure why the UTCA chose to go head-to-head with the NCAAs, rather than the previous weekend, when the NCAA D-I Super Regionals are scheduled, but the fact that they already have a streaming partner is definitely an advantage, as the NCAA committee has yet to release any of its plans for broadcasting or streaming the three NCAA team championships, all of which are in Lake Nona this year.

Universal Tennis has earned its status as a college tennis mainstay over the years, and the sport is fortunate to have the company continue to look for ways to promote collegiate tennis outside the umbrella of the USTA/ITA/NCAA.

The big non-conference match today in Division I tennis was in Columbia South Carolina, where fifth-ranked South Carolina defeated No. 4 Ohio State 4-1. Given their results this year and their rankings, and the match being outdoors, this isn't a major upset, but the comprehensive nature of the South Carolina win was impressive. The Gamecocks took the doubles point with wins at lines 1 and 3, then got points from Jake Beasley at line 6, Toby Samuel at line 1 and James Story at line 4, all of whom won in straight sets.

Beasley handed Robert Cash his first loss in 14 decisions in the dual match season; Ohio State got their point from Cannon Kingsley at line 2. 

For more on this afternoon's match, see this article from gamecocksonline.

Kyle Kang, who was poised to be one of the top seeds at both the J300s in Indian Wells next week and in San Diego the following week, has withdrawn from both events. The other ITF Top 20 boy entered in San Diego, Rei Sakamoto of Japan, also withdrew. (Sakamoto is not eligible for this year's Indian Wells tournament). The main draw cutoffs for San Diego have fallen to 600 for both boys and girls.

The girls fields still have several Top 25 players: Iva Jovic, Clervie Ngounoue and Kaitlin Quevedo(Indian Wells only).

In this week's ITF Junior Circuit tournaments, Alexander Frusina is through to the quarterfinals of the J300 in Thailand, where he'll play top seed Yi Zhou of China. Zhou and Frusina played in the J200 final last week, with Zhou winning 6-3, 3-6, 7-6(6).

Darwin Blanch[14], last week's J300 winner in Porto Alegre Brazil, lost in the second round of the J500 Banana Bowl to Yuta Tomida of Japan 6-2, 4-6, 6-4.  Cyrus Mahjoob is the only American to reach the third round of singles; the unseeded 17-year-old defeated No. 11 seed Atakan Karahan of Turkey 6-3, 6-2 today.

At the J60 in Las Vegas, 14-year-old wild card Roshan Santhosh, the 2022 Southern California 14s sectional champion, took out top seed Jagger Leach 4-6, 6-3, 6-2 to advance to the quarterfinals. This is the third ITF Junior Circuit tournament for Santhosh. 

First round action at the BNP Paribas Open is underway, with two Southern Californians advancing with wins over fellow Americans this afternoon at Indian Wells. Marcos Giron(UCLA) defeated wild card Aleks Kovacevic(Illinois) 6-3, 7-5 and Brandon Nakashima beat John Isner 7-6(7), 6-3.

Thursday's order of play is here.