Thursday, 26 October 2017 22:27

National Fall Championship At-Large/Wild Cards Named; SoCal Intercollegiates; Juan Varon Invitational

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The ITA released the at-large and wild card selections for next week's Oracle ITA National Fall Championships which will be held in Indian Wells and Palm Desert, California. On the men's side, the teams with multiple singles at-large selections were Ohio State (3), Florida State (3), Georgia (2), Kentucky (2), and Tulane (2). The two men's wild cards went to Mississippi State's Nuno Borges (ITA Preseason No. 2) and Ohio State's JJ Wolf (ITA Preseason No. 29).

There were four extra at-large selections on the men's side due to qualifiers William Blumberg, Mikael Torpegaard, Gustav Hansson, and David Volfson opting not to play. There are two pro events in the United States next week with a Futures event in Birmingham (AL) and a Challenger event in Charlottesville.  I saw Hansson's name listed on the acceptance list for Birmingham but I didn't see the others listed in either place so unless they get a wild card I'm not sure why they choose not to play.

The women's teams with multiple selections were Cal (3), North Carolina (3), Duke (2), Georgia (2), Loyola Marymount (2), and UCLA (2). The two women's wild cards went to Michigan's Kate Fahey (ITA Preseason No. 6) and Georgia's Elena Christofi (ITA Preseason No. 10). Everyone else who qualified remained in the field. 

As per the ITA's selection criteria, to be considered for an at-large selection in singles, a player must have reached the quarterfinals of the Oracle ITA Masters, the Round of 16 of the All-American Championships or the quarterfinals of an ITA Regional Championship. The at-large singles selections were based on each players’ ITA/UTR Rankings Average which was a combination of a players’ ITA preseason national ranking, Universal Tennis Rating and ITA mid-season unpublished ranking.


To see the full list of singles and doubles qualifiers visit the ITA's event page.



The Southern California Intercollegiate Championships got started on Thursday at USC and for the second year in a row the tournament is utilizing PlaySight's PlayFair Challenge System. As expected the draw is heavy with players from USC and UCLA with USC's Brandon Holt, USC's Laurens Verboven, San Diego's August Holmgren, and UCLA's Keegan Smith the top four seeds. To see qualifying, singles, and doubles  draws click on this link.   



Bethune-Cookman is hosting the clay court Juan Varon Wildcat Invitational this weekend with players from the following schools joining Bethune-Cookman - ASA College, Eastern Florida State, Embry-Riddle, Flagler, Keiser, Stetson, St. Leo, and Troy. The tournament honors the former B-CU tennis player who died tragically in a motorcycle accident in September 2013.

Below is a release from B-CU's Dan Ryan that I wanted to share.


DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. -- To appreciate Juan Varon's passion and contribution to the Bethune-Cookman tennis program, you have to start with his 2013 record at No. 1 singles.

2-13. But there's more to it.

The nagging leg injury that hampered his range and disrupted his timing never went away. Still, he knew the Wildcat' best option for the season, was for him to remain at No. 1 singles to give his Wildcat teammates a better chance of scoring the most singles points possible as well as develop their games.

So Juan soldiered on, slowed by injury, taking his lumps against the opponents' best player. Thirteen out of 15 times he did just that. It was the tennis equivalent of "taking one for the team."

"His level of play was still there. His effort was still there. His game was still there," said Santiago Lobelo, one of Juan's teammates and now an assistant coach at the University of Houston. "It was never about the record, it was about all of us. He was always taking care of us. A very good friend."

Juan made a promising debut in Spring 2012 playing number two singles. He started the season with three consecutive victories and registered a win over Oklahoma Christian's Martin Poboril, ranked second nationally in NAIA. With a strong serve and volley game, he finished 11-9 overall and garnered a second-team berth on the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference (MEAC) All-Conference team.

Injuries started taking their toll, but Juan found a way to contribute - in doubles - as the 2012-13 season approached.

On opening weekend of fall play, the majority of the men's team travelled to the University of Florida for a tournament, but Juan remained in Daytona Beach and competed at the nearby Embry-Riddle Open. The doubles roster still had questions, but one answer came out of nowhere.

Juan struggled at singles, but found the right doubles combination with Seve Day. The duo won their first seven matches in fall play - winning two flight championship in as many weeks - and made a charge at HBCU Nationals, falling in the championship of their flight. He and Day would play number one doubles for the majority of the 2013 spring season.

And it was at number one doubles where Juan registered his signature victory. Against Florida State, he and Day combined to defeat the Seminoles' Andres Bucaro and Benjamin Lock, who were ranked 27th in the nation. FSU won the doubles point and the overall match, 7-0, but it's just like the singles record, there's more to the stats.

Off the court, Juan was just as admired. He had a very unique outlook on life. He loved to rap in Spanish. The leadership with the men's team carried over Juan's influence was just as strong with the women's team, giving them pointers on their game as well.

His place as a leader was secure, but he was still confident about his abilities. Take a medical redshirt? He told the coaches he'd rather play injured than sit. He was going to be the one of the best players in the MEAC in 2014. Juan Varon died the next day.

Heartbroken but strengthened in their mourning, both B-CU teams elected to play that week at the HBCU National Championships, with the women repeating as tournament champions.

A year later during Spring, Juan's impact began to be felt in full.

The woman won their first MEAC title in 14 years. The men's team, who lumbered to a 6-18 record without Varon the year before, beat archrival Florida A&M for the first time in modern history with senior Diego Garavito, one of Juan's closest friends, delivering the clinching fourth point.

"For you, Juan," Garavito said after winning. Two weeks later, the men's team advanced to the MEAC tournament championship match for the first time in program history.

Juan also had influence on a bigger scale. He and Garavito lobbied the athletic department for a tournament at Florida Tennis Center and its clay court, a surface international players enjoy to play. The tournament would be a great opportunity for the Wildcat tennis program to host what could be a top-level event in its hometown.

That vision became in reality in 2014 and resumes Friday afternoon.


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