The USTA announced that the popular College MatchDay series will return to Lake Nona in 2018 with eight matches scheduled between February 3rd and April 15th. The series kicks off with the Florida State and Florida men and women playing simultaneously and then a week later the Georgia and Georgia Tech men will play on February 9. The USTA National Campus drew over 5300 fans a year ago including just under 1800 for Florida State's upset win over Florida. “Last year, College MatchDay cemented itself as the bowl series of college tennis, with marquee matches and elite programs,” said USTA Collegiate Tennis Director Stephen Amritraj via the USTA's release. “It is quickly turning the USTA National Campus into the 'Home of College Tennis,' with a devoted fan base and incredible atmosphere."
The full College MatchDay schedule for next year is listed below plus they'll be plenty of other college matches scheduled for Lake Nona as well.
Saturday, Feb. 3, at 7 p.m. ET: Florida vs. Florida State men and women
Friday, Feb. 9, at 7 p.m. ET: Georgia vs. Georgia Tech men
Saturday, Feb. 24, at 10:30 a.m. ET: Oklahoma vs. Texas A&M men
Saturday, March 3, at 12:30 p.m. ET: UCF vs. Michigan men and women
Sunday, April 1, at 5 p.m. ET: Florida vs. Texas women
Sunday, April 15, at 5:30 p.m. ET: UCF vs. South Florida men
Baylor rising junior Juan Benitez won his first career pro titles over the weekend after sweeping singles and doubles at the Morocco F1 Futures in Tanger. In the doubles final, Benitez teamed with Raleigh Smith (Northwestern '14) to defeat Skander Mansouri (Wake Forest Rising Sr) and Nick Chappell (TCU '15) 6-4, 7-6(3). Benitez and Smith were actually fortunate to make it out of the opening round because they trailed 9-4 in the third set supertiebreak and then after erasing those five match points they fought off one more before winning 13-11. As fate would have it Benitez and Smith would face each other in the singles final with Benitez getting the win 6-2, 7-6(2). Benitez only dropped one set on the week while Smith won only had one match finish in straight sets prior to the final.
The last vacant Power Five head coaching position was filled on Friday when Minnesota Athletic Director Mark Coyle announced the hiring of Catrina Thompson as the new women's head coach of the Gophers. Thompson comes to Minneapolis from South Bend where she has been the women's assistant coach for the last four years. Thompson played at Notre Dame from 2003 to 2007 and also coached at Yale and Boise State. Thompson replaces Chuck Merzbacher who retired after 28 years as a head coach with the final five coming at Minnesota. Below are some quotes from Minnesota's recap:
"As an assistant coach, Catrina has contributed to significant academic and athletic success for her student-athletes during the past seven seasons. She is a person of great substance, and her dedication to the total collegiate experience is exactly what we want from all of our head coaches," said Athletics Director Mark Coyle. "Catrina was an All-American and a professional athlete before becoming a coach. She's competed, coached and won at the highest levels. That experience will serve her and our student-athletes well."
"I am thrilled to be a part of the Gopher family. I am looking forward to helping Gopher student-athletes develop and reach their goals on and off the court, and also building on the success and tradition that the University of Minnesota embodies," said Thompson. "I am humbled by this incredible opportunity with which I have been entrusted. I want to thank Mark and everyone at Minnesota for this honor and responsibility, and I'd also like to thank Jay Louderback and Beck Roghaar for their mentorship throughout my college coaching career."
Michael Mmoh came into this year's USTA Boys 18 National Championships as the top seed and he definitely lived up to the billing. Mmoh only needed about 90 minutes to win the best of five sets final over the No. 7 seed Vasil Kirkov 6-1, 6-2, 6-3. Mmoh only lost 35 games in seven matches and didn't drop a set all week. Colette Lewis has all the quotes from today's winners over at ZooTennis.
#474 Mikelis Libietis (Tennessee '15) won his tenth straight match and second straight Futures after defeating #1626 Alberto Brizzi 7-6(6), 7-6(6) in the finals of the $10K Futures in Parnu, Estonia. Libietis broke Brizzi to start the match and then held in a four-deuce game to go ahead 2-0. Brizzi took the next four games to open up a 4-2 lead but Libietis took the next two to even it at 4-4. It stayed on serve until the tiebreak and then Libietis won the pivotal 6-6 point on Brizzi's serve and then took the next point to take the opening set tiebreak 8-6. The second set started with six straight holds then Brizzi broke from 15/40 to go up 4-3. Libietis broke back at love to even it at 4-4 and then it was all holds until the tiebreak. Libietis led 6-3 in the tiebreak but Brizzi fought off three match points (two on his own serve and one on Libietis's serve) to even it at 6-6. Libietis took the last two points to close out the title.
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