Fitness During Tournaments for Tennis Players Trying to be Elite

Courtesy of Todd Widom
Courtesy of Todd Widom

Here is another helpful article from coach Todd Widom on one way elite players set themselves apart from the rest of the pack.

This past December I had a discussion with a young touring professional  who was having trouble sustaining his level of fitness during matches on the ATP tour.  He had some very good chances to win matches against good players, but he would run out of gas and not be able to sustain his level of play.  After telling me his physical issues during his matches, he asked me if he should be doing fitness during tournaments.  My quick response was of course.

The vast majority of your children are not going to do what this article is discussing.  To be elite in this sport, you have to be different than the rest, and it is the small things that make the biggest difference if you want to be special.  If you do not go above and beyond the call of duty, you will be like the rest.  It all depends what your child wants out of their tennis.

Included in this article is information on fitness for those who are trying to become elite junior tennis players.  The norm for a junior tennis player is to warm up for their match, play their match, maybe stretch 5 to10 minutes, get food, maybe play another match or go to the movies, or hang out with their tennis friends for the rest of the day.  If the junior tennis player trains well for a tournament, they should be physically fit entering each and every tournament.  The reality is that if this player does not keep up their level of fitness during tournaments, they will be out of shape when they come back to train once their tournament is complete.  For every day they skip doing some physical fitness during a tournament, they will lose a bit of their physical conditioning, which will have to be boosted up again when they come home to train.

Doing fitness during a tournament will help maintain one’s fitness level and it is not about becoming more fit or stronger.  You want to try your best to maintain your level of fitness so that when you get home to train, you are not starting from scratch, and you can keep progressing to becoming more fit and stronger.  From a parental perspective I know what you are thinking:  I do not want my child to be tired for their next match the next day, I want them fresh.  If your child has been training well and is fit, doing 30 minutes of exercises is going to keep them sharp, because they should be used to doing lots of tough physical work at home.  If your child has two tough matches in a day at a tournament, then doing anything strenuous is not too smart, but if your child has some easy matches or one easy match, I would highly recommend them doing some very sport specific exercises to keep them sharp at tournaments.

This comes down to common sense.  For example, if your child has an easy match or two in one day, they definitely should proceed to do fitness for at least 20 to30 minutes.  They should do tennis specific movements to keep their fast twitch muscles firing for the matches the next day.  They could also do some body weight exercises, core or band work for some upper body strength.  If your child had a brutal day at a tournament and is tired, they should have a very good cool down session and recover well for the next match.  This may consist of a light jog or bike ride to flush out all the lactic acid that developed in their muscles.  Then you need a great recovery plan to make sure your child wakes up the next day with a fresh body so that they are able to compete again.  I will discuss the recovery plan in a future article.

As I discussed earlier in the article, most kids are not going to do this without someone helping them, and if they do this on their own, you have a very special mature young person on your hands.  Tennis is becoming a more physical game and the ball is going faster generation after generation.  I can tell you that many injuries come from improper training.  Also, tennis players who have become out of shape and then trying to push their bodies to higher levels of fitness or tennis when their bodies cannot handle that type of training at that moment, is a recipe for injuries.  When a player is at a tournament, it is all about trying to maintain your level of fitness so that when you come home to train, you are not out of shape and having to start from zero.  I always tell the players I train on a daily basis, that if you think your matches at tennis tournaments are very tough physically, then you are not fit enough.  Your training should always be tougher physically than your tournament matches, and if this is not the case, then you need to train tougher physically.  Best of luck and remember that going to tournaments are fun, but you also need to keep up with your fitness if you want to keep progressing physically.

The Serbian Tennis Monster Janko Tipsarevic

TipsaravicHere is another contribution from Coach Todd Widom. Enjoy!

In 1999 I had a good Easter Bowl finish in the boys 16 and under division.  Due to my results, I was invited by the USTA to go on a trip for three weeks to Europe and play some of the best 16 and under European tournaments on red clay.  I was very excited to say the least.  These players in the draw of these three tournaments were mostly from Europe and they were very good, especially on red clay.  I thought I was great on clay because I grew up on clay in south Florida and I was coached by Argentine coaches my whole life.  Being good on green clay in the United States and being good on European red clay are two very different things.

Some of the kids that I saw on that trip would be my competition on the ATP Tour a couple of years later, but there was one kid who caught my eye at the first tournament in Torino, Italy.  I did not know who he was, but I knew that if I played him, I may not have gotten games off of him.  He was that good and not only that, he was a year younger than me.  This guy was built like a monster from his upper body to his legs and he was sliding on these red clay courts like no other fifteen year old I had ever seen.  I thought I was pretty good at sixteen years old.  I was top five in the United States in the 16 and under division and already had some low level professional experience.

The boy’s name was Janko Tipsarevic from Serbia and thank goodness I did not play him on this trip because I was very certain this guy was much better than me.  I ended up taking a beating my second week in Milan, Italy from a guy from Switzerland (not Roger).  I lost 6-1, 6-1 to this guy and I thought I played well.  I was sliding well on the red clay and ripping the ball heavy and I got a lesson in about an hour.  This was my “ah ha” moment, that I needed to become much better if I had any chance of playing against the best players in the world on the ATP Tour.

Fast forward a couple of years to 2001 and many tough hours of training later plus a semester of college tennis at the University of Miami.  I met Janko in the second round of the Orange Bowl boys 18 and under, played on Key Biscayne, where the Miami Open aka the Sony Ericsson professional tournament is played.  I knew who he was but he had no idea who I was.  He was the number two junior player in the world and at seventeen years old he already had extensive professional experience.  I had little to no world junior ranking because that was an area I never pursued.  I was one of the top juniors in the United States and I had a little bit of professional experience, but not much.  On paper, he should have smoked me and he probably believed that he should have.  We start our five minute warm-up and he is warming up with his shoes untied.  Talk about no respect for me!  I looked at his shoes and then him, and it gave me more determination to beat him, which I did in a long tough three set match.

The moral of the story is that you should never underestimate anyone, even if you have never heard of them or seen them.  There are players that are phenomenal all around the world and they are very good, but if you put in the extremely hard yards and train focused you could be a top player.  There is no one right way to get there except by training hard and with a purpose.  We had two totally different paths between our junior careers and professional careers, but I guarantee he was working his tail off in Serbia trying to make it on the ATP Tour.  I ended up playing Janko in a challenger in California when he was ranked around 140 on the ATP Tour and I beat him again.  His shoes were tied this time in the warm-up.

Reilly Opelka: Life on Tour

IMG_7276A little over a year ago, Reilly Opelka made waves in the tennis world as he became the second consecutive American to win Junior Wimbledon (Noah Rubin had won the year before). For quite a while before that, college coaches from the top programs were actively recruiting the tall kid from Florida. Life was looking pretty sweet.

But, after a lot of soul-searching, Reilly decided the time was ripe for him to pursue his lifelong dream of becoming a professional tennis player. Just before his 18th birthday, he signed with agent Sam Duvall of Lagardere Unlimited and has been on a steady climb up the rankings ever since.

I first saw Reilly play – and met his parents, George and Lynne – at the Junior US Open back in 2013. At that time, the media was constantly comparing Reilly to John Isner, both because of his height and his big serve and forehand. I had never seen a just-turned-16-year-old hit that big. I realized I was seeing the future of the pro tour, and it was very exciting!

George and I stayed in touch via the Twitterverse – you can find George there as @ChalkFlewUp – and had the chance to meet again the following year when he and Lynne and their daughter, Brenna, were in Atlanta during the NCAAs. College tennis was very much in consideration for Reilly at that point, and we parents chatted about the various schools, coaches, and other important factors that would go into both our sons’ final decisions.

Now, just 2 years later, Reilly is in Atlanta playing in the BB&T Atlanta Open as a Wildcard entry. His first-round match was against local player and Georgia Tech team member IMG_7275Chris Eubanks whom he beat in two very tight tiebreak sets. In the second round, Reilly faced 3-seed Kevin Anderson, and it was another battle of gentle giants as the 6’11” Opelka out-aced the 6’8″ 30-year-old who played 3 years at the University of Illinois (and earned All-American status each of those years).

Yesterday, I had a chance to visit with Reilly and his dad, George, about life on the tour.

Reilly shared with me that, from a development standpoint, the onus is on his coach to put a plan in place and is on Reilly to implement that plan through hard work. “I just make sure I’m competing well in every match. It’s all I can do at this point. I try to win every point and every match I can. We’re always working on the transition game and on fitness, those are the main things. I’ve already hit so many balls in my life. Now, it’s just getting in the right mindset during the important points in the match.”

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Reilly posing with 1996 Olympic Gold Medal swimmer Brooke Bennett

I asked him how he knew turning pro was the right decision for him. “I was in a good position to turn pro as far as from my tennis standpoint and also having a bunch of options with Sam Duvall – he helped me out a lot. So that was a big part of it. It’s just something I’ve always dreamed of doing,” he told me. The biggest challenges he faces as an 18-year-old on tour include both physical and mental aspects. “I haven’t been home in 10 weeks now, so that gets tiring. Physically, a 28-year-old knows his body much better than an 18-year old, so that’s tough. The training and recovery techniques have really changed so the older guys are doing a great job of taking care of their bodies.”

What advice would Reilly give to a 16- or 17-year-old weighing college tennis against the pro tour? “It really depends. Everyone has a pretty unique situation. It depends on their ranking and their results. I would say if you’re top 300 and your’e 17 or 18, then you should probably go pro. Or if you’re a top 3 junior and have won a junior slam, then, yeah, go pro. I feel like other than that I would recommend college tennis.”

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George, Brenna, Lynne, & their cousin cheering on Reilly

I’ve really enjoyed spending time with Reilly’s parents and sister this week. But having them at a tournament is now a rare treat for him. Reilly explained, “It’s great support and great knowing they’re here, but it doesn’t take away from me doing my thing and taking care of business.” Dad, George, agrees, “Whenever I get to watch Reilly play, it’s bonus, because I don’t get to see him play that often. Our schedules just don’t jibe, and his matches aren’t always on tv!”

So, what are George and Lynne’s roles now that their son is a professional player? “In terms of tactics and strategy, I try to stay out of Reilly’s tennis now – he’s got a world of experience and smart people around him,” George said. “I don’t get caught up in wins and losses – he’s still developing. From a Dad standpoint, I sit back and try to enjoy the matches, don’t get nervous, just watch and have fun.”

But just watching and having fun is harder than it sounds, as any of you Tennis Parents out there can attest to! And it didn’t always come easy for George Opelka, either! “In the early junior years, I was probably Crazy Tennis Dad. But we really had some good mentors who put things in perspective for us pretty early. You realize you’re gonna be at hundreds and hundreds of matches and [your kid is] probably going to lose hundreds of matches, so you just get used to it. I used to focus on the outcome instead of focusing on getting better. But, thankfully, I learned!”

George and Lynne were lucky to have people around them giving them good advice. Now, they can share that advice with other Tennis Parents starting out on this long journey. “The one thing we did extremely well is we didn’t over-lesson; instead we over-played. We took the approach that tennis is like piano lessons: you take one lesson a week then you go out and practice what you learned. It was a financial thing for us – I wasn’t going to throw hundreds of dollars a week into lessons. Plus, we lived in Florida where we could find matches, courts were free, and learning to play on clay helped Reilly’s game.” When I asked him what he feels he could’ve done better during Reilly’s junior years, he responded, “We don’t have too many regrets. A lot of tennis parents, me included, get too much into it, too focused on outcomes and results. That didn’t last too long for me. Parents should drop their kids off and go to Starbucks and just let their kid play!”

The Opelkas have two kids, though, and only one played high-level tennis. I asked George how he and Lynne balanced their children’s very different interests. “My daughter, Brenna, is Reilly’s biggest supporter and fan. But her passion was dance. I’d like to think we supported her dance as much as we supported Reilly’s tennis. Both of our kids are great kids which made it easier. You just figure it out!”

Next up for Reilly at the BB&T Atlanta Open is another local favorite, Donald Young, who is currently ranked 53 in the world. They will be the third match on Stadium Court, probably going on around 4:30 or so. You can bet I will be there watching.

Here are the complete results from yesterday as well as the schedule for today:

RESULTS – AUGUST 04, 2016

Singles – Second Round

[2] N. Kyrgios (AUS) d [WC] J. Donaldson (USA) 76(4) 63

Y. Nishioka (JPN) d [4] A. Dolgopolov (UKR) 63  26 61

[5] F. Verdasco (ESP) d [PR] J. Benneteau (FRA) 61 63

H. Zeballos (ARG) d [LL] T. Kamke (GER) 61 64

Doubles – Quarterfinals

M. Demoliner (BRA) / G. Garcia-Lopez (ESP) d J. Marray (GBR) / A. Shamasdin (CAN) 64 62

P. Raja (IND) / D. Sharan (IND) d A. Dolgopolov (UKR) / S. Stakhovsky (UKR) walkover

ORDER OF PLAY – FRIDAY, AUGUST 05, 2016

STADIUM COURT start 12:00 noon

H. Zeballos (ARG) vs Y. Nishioka (JPN)

Not Before 3:00 pm

[5] F. Verdasco (ESP) vs [2] N. Kyrgios (AUS)

[WC] R. Opelka (USA) vs [7] D. Young (USA)

Not Before 8:00 pm

[1] J. Isner (USA) vs [8] T. Fritz (USA)

J. Brunstrom (SWE) / A. Siljestrom (SWE) vs N. Monroe (USA) / A. Sitak (NZL)

AJC GRANDSTAND COURT start 5:00 pm

[WC] C. Eubanks (USA) / Z. Kennedy (USA) vs A. Molteni (ARG) / H. Zeballos (ARG)

American Young Guns On Court Today

bbt skylineToday marks the first day of the Main Draw for the BB&T Atlanta Open, and we’ll have several Young Guns competing for a spot in Round 2!

First up will be Jared Donaldson taking on big-serving Aussie Sam Groth. Jared took a non-traditional route in his junior years, foregoing many of the USTA tournaments to develop his game in South America, which seems to be paying off in spades now that he’s on the pro tour. The 19-year-old is currently ranked 123 in the world which gives him direct entry into many of the ATP events. I haven’t seen him play since last summer, so I’m really looking forward to today’s match!

The other Young Gun match of the day will be qualifier Chris Eubanks (click here to read about Chris’s road to the Main Draw) taking on 18-year-old Reilly Opelka (ranked 556). This one will be a battle of the big serve-big forehand style of play as both guys are REALLY TALL and have REALLY BIG strokes! Chris stands at 6’7″ while Reilly clocks in at 6’11’ which definitely gives them both some extra pop when they step up to the service line. These two have followed very different paths with their tennis, Chris choosing to go the college route (he’s a rising junior at Georgia Tech) while Reilly went straight from juniors to the pro tour.

I’ll be out at the tournament most of the day and evening – you can follow me on Twitter and Instagram for periodic updates throughout the week. Also, be sure to follow the tournament itself on social media: @BBTatlantaopen. If you’re out at Atlantic Station, please come find me and say hello!

Here is a complete list of yesterday’s results and today’s schedule of play:

Qualifying Singles – Second Round

Qualifying – [WC] C. Eubanks (USA) d [1] T. Monteiro (BRA) 64 75

Qualifying – [7] J. Smith (AUS) d [2] T. Kamke (GER) 76(4) 63

Qualifying – [3] A. Krajicek (USA) d [5] J. Duckworth (AUS) 36 76(5) 76(5)

Qualifying – [4] M. Zverev (GER) d N. Meister (USA) 76(5) 75

ORDER OF PLAY – MONDAY, AUGUST 01, 2016

STADIUM COURT start 12:00 noon

[LL] T. Monteiro (BRA) vs T. Smyczek (USA)

S. Groth (AUS) vs [WC] J. Donaldson (USA)

Not Before 4:00 pm

[Q] A. Krajicek (USA) vs [7] D. Young (USA)

Not Before 6:00 pm

[Q] C. Eubanks (USA) vs [WC] R. Opelka (USA)

A. Dolgopolov (UKR) / S. Stakhovsky (UKR) vs [WC] J. Frawley (AUS) / N. Kyrgios (AUS)

AJC GRANDSTAND COURT start 2:00 pm

T. Kamke (GER) / D. Lajovic (SRB) vs M. Demoliner (BRA) / G. Garcia-Lopez (ESP)

A. Mannarino (FRA) vs [Q] M. Zverev (GER)

Should Your Child Quit School to Become a Tennis Star?

The piece below was written by Doug Browne, a well-respected teaching pro and former top player. He is the parent of a Furman University tennis player, too. After reading this article on his Facebook page, I asked Doug’s permission to reprint it here. The debate over whether or not to homeschool junior players is ongoing. Doug offers his thoughts on the issue here.

I also want to remind all of you about the Sol Schwartz #SaveCollegeTennis All-In tournament presented by Holabird Sports coming up August 20-21. Click here for the tournament website. 

Without a doubt, change is inevitable and we need to be able to embrace it or we will be left behind. But, like anything, not all change is necessarily a good thing.

The big tennis topic on the junior tour is whether one should home-school their child. In other words, in order to keep up with the competition, parents must pull their child out of their current school.

In the past few summers on the junior tennis circuit, it is commonplace for my students to compete against kids who do not formally attend a public or private school.

Perhaps what is most disturbing to me is that most of the kids begin to pull out of school at the tender age of eleven or twelve. The most salient reason kids skip formal school is to have at least five hours of practice each day before they head to the weekend tennis tournament.

The idea of yanking my son out of school is literally frightening; what about the educational and social ramifications of this bold move?

Moreover, if the child eventually elects to give up junior tennis, will he be able to adapt to normal life?

Numerous kids have had to cope with serious injuries as well as ‘burn out’ – playing too much tennis!

Currently, we have a few American tennis stars who are doing well on the International circuit: John Isner, Sam Querrey, Steve Johnson Jr and several rising teenage super stars.

Both Isner and Johnson went to college and soared on and off the tennis court. In particular, Stevie Johnson might be the greatest college tennis player in history as he won several individual and team titles over a 4-year span.

However, far too many young athletes have skipped the university experience and have struggled on the pro tour.

Therefore, it is obvious to the tennis world that few junior tennis players make the leap to the pro game and thrive. To me, it is our job as the parents of young athletes to guide our children in the right direction.

To that point, kids need formal school for an abundance of reasons: Prepare for the academic curriculum of a top university which will provide excellent future employment opportunities. One must learn interpersonal skills with various groups in a variety of classes. Within the structure of the school, kids must deal with the class bullies and other items that cause alternate thinking.

Finally, kids who attend school must adjust to numerous teachers and their different learning methods. By the time a young person graduates from high school, he/she is well conditioned both academically and socially to the upcoming journey that lies ahead.

Aspiring junior tennis players who skip formal school miss out on proms, homecomings, school team tennis, school socials and potential life-long friends.

My biggest concern about kids who skip formal school is the idea that there is little give and take. Life is about the next tournament or the next professional who can lead this child to the Promised Land.

Not included in this list is the child who sincerely cares about others and the idea of sharing. So, when we contemplate whether we should remove our child from school, please take in the entire package; not the immediate gain in the boys 14 and under Florida tennis rankings.

Believe it or not, famous stars like Jimmy Connors, John McEnroe, Stan Smith, Arthur Ashe, Todd Martin and many others attended famous universities.

When we tune in a tennis match broadcast live by New Yorker and tennis legend, John McEnroe, he continually alludes to his great memories from his days in Palo Alto at Stanford University. (McEnroe only attended Stanford for one year but he talks about his experiences as if he were there for four or five years)

I urge all tennis parents to reconsider this home-school decision as it may impair the child for many years into the future. We have incredible educators who have the ability to greatly impact our kids far into the future. Don’t miss out on going to school, you may later learn to regret the decision.

Tenicity: Combining Technology With The Human Element of Player Development

The following was written by Harsh Mankad, co-founder of Tenicity, and reprinted with permission.

At Tenicity, we deeply understand that technology by itself has limitations. However, leveraging technology to generate insights and to enhance human communication and collaboration is powerful from a player development standpoint.

Currently, we are in an interesting phase in the tennis industry as new technologies around video analysis, data analytics, and sensors in various types of equipment enter the landscape. My feeling about the sophisticated systems such as smart courts is that from the volumes and volumes of video footage and statistics that they generate, eventually, given that most players typically focus and work on 2-3 things at any given time, most of that information will need to be distilled down anyway. Furthermore, unless one has a simple and systematic way to track the most relevant performance data, all the analysis simply gets lost over time. Therefore, a platform like Tenicity that effectively tracks key information related to the player’s development is a great compliment to a sophisticated system.

For those that don’t have deep pockets for sophisticated video analysis systems, there is nothing to worry about from a competitive advantage standpoint. Use a simple yet powerful platform like Tenicity for a fraction of the cost and achieve outstanding results. As an example, If I am a coach working with a player and I have identified improving his serve as a key area of focus over the next 3 months, using Tenicity, I can quickly create a template to track his performance on 5 simple metrics such as his 1st serve %, number of aces, number of double faults, service games won %, and number of free points won on serve. Furthermore, over time, I can create performance charts that enable me to view trends and to generate insights, all of which is extremely valuable for me to assess my player’s development. In comparison, all the additional data that a sophisticated system would provide me with is ‘peripheral’ from a coaching and player development standpoint.

Therefore, a sophisticated video analysis system is by itself not a game-changer. The engine of a car by itself if not going to take you anywhere. That engine combined with other pieces of equipment, all put together resulting in a car is what eventually will take you from point A to point B. We at Tenicity, deeply understood this concept from the very beginning and therefore, we built the car and not just its component parts. Tenicity brings together the key aspects that go into player development all in one easy-to-use web and mobile platform.

I invite coaches, players, and parents to check out Tenicity at www.tenicity.com and connect with me. You will find Tenicity to be a very effective platform for player development. It combines the human element with technology in a way that no other platform or product does. Lastly, whether you have access to a sophisticated and costly system such as a smart court or not will not be so important because you will generate high quality insights and foster great teamwork using Tenicity.

Oracle/ITA Junior Masters Championship – Powered by UTR

Here is another article, reprinted with permission, from Universal Tennis. I’m so excited to see this series of events on the 2016 junior calendar! Y’all have heard me say it a million times: without a strong junior development competition system, college tennis cannot survive as a viable pathway for US players. Oracle, ITA, and UTR are doing their part to ensure the future and to #SaveCollegeTennis. Thank you to these partners for thinking outside the box and providing a wonderful series of tournaments (scroll down to see the schedule of regional events) for our junior players.

(Source: ITA, Tempe, Ariz.– Oracle and the Intercollegiate Tennis Association announced a partnership that will include Oracle’s continued sponsorship of the Oracle/ITA Masters, Oracle/ITA Collegiate Tennis Rankings, and the Oracle/ITA Arthur Ashe Jr./All-Star Outing, and add an innovative new series of level-based events for American junior tennis players.

“Oracle is committed to helping grow the game and interest of tennis in America,” said Oracle CEO Mark Hurd. “We’re proud to continue our support of the ITA in competitive intercollegiate tennis and now expanding the program to reach junior players.”

The first step in Oracle and the ITA’s plan to help strengthen American tennis is the announcement of the inaugural Oracle/ITA Junior Masters Championships, which will take place during the summer and fall of 2016.

In announcing the inaugural Oracle/ITA Junior Masters Championship, ITA Chief Executive Officer, Timothy Russell, said: “In expanding our partnership with Oracle, we are excited to add a series of tournaments for American junior tennis players that progress from regional level-based play to a high-level national championship in Malibu, California. We are also pleased to be working with Universal Tennis, with selections for the regional events to be made using the Universal Tennis Ratings, and the tournaments being administered by Universal Tennis atevents.universaltennis.com.”

Harvard Men’s Tennis Coach Dave Fish, a member of the current ITA Board, and a long-standing advocate for level-based play, commented: “What a wonderful new opportunity, an enhancement to the world of junior tennis, building on college varsity tennis as level-based play and the ITA’s vision of what the future of tennis in America might look like.”

Eric Butorac, ATP Player Council president, accomplished doubles specialist and former Division III star at Gustavus Adolphus College, says, “I’m a huge fan of level-based play and UTR. I am thrilled that the ITA, in partnership with Oracle, has expanded the reach of the Oracle/ITA Masters into the world of American juniors. I hope that large numbers of junior players will enter the regional events, with the hope of earning their way to Malibu.”

The regional Oracle/ITA Junior Masters events, for girls and boys, will take place at 12 sites around the United States and will be held in August and September of 2016. The top 16 UTR-rated boys and girls who register in each region will participate in compass draws in those regional events with the winner of both the girl’s and boy’s events progressing to the October 13-16, 2016 Oracle/ITA Masters in Malibu, California – hosted by both the Malibu Racquet Club and Pepperdine University. The regional winners will receive up to a $750 travel/hotel stipend to play in the Masters Championships in Malibu.

Austin Tennis Academy
The Austin Tennis Academy in Austin, Texas will be the host location for the Oracle/ITA Junior Masters Austin Regional tournament that takes place August 20-21, 2016. For more details on the regional tournaments click here.

Russell added: “For college tennis to thrive, American junior tennis must grow and thrive. As the ITA continues to serve college tennis, we must expand our reach in the junior competition arena even more, building on the success of the ITA Summer Circuit. In doing so we will continue to return the leaders of tomorrow.”

The Oracle/ITA Junior Masters will utilize no-ad scoring, the scoring format utilized by ITA Division I programs. The dates and host sites for the Oracle/ITA Junior Masters Regional tournaments are listed at the UTR Events site, events.universaltennis.com. Entries open June 1, 2016.

Last year’s inaugural Oracle/ITA Masters was an overwhelming success. The men’s singles and women’s doubles final were broadcast live on Tennis Channel from the Malibu Racquet Club in Malibu, California. In 2016, the Oracle/ITA Masters will be hosted by the Malibu Racquet Club and Pepperdine University, and will undergo some modifications that will allow more players from across all Division I conferences to participate.

The 2016 event, to be held October 13-16, will invite one woman and one man from each Division I Conference to the championships to compete in both their respective singles as well as a mixed doubles competition.

The draw for men’s and women’s singles has been expanded from 16 to 32, while the doubles shifts to a 32-draw mixed doubles event. Players will be chosen based upon conference representation (similar to the NCAA Tournament). Oracle will receive wildcard selections as they did in 2015.

Oracle will also become the presenting sponsor for the events on the ITA Fall 2016 schedule, including all ITA Regional Championships.

In addition, one of the ITA’s National Championships will undergo a name change thanks to the Oracle partnership, as the National Small College Championships will now be known as the 2016 ITA Oracle Cup. The 2016 ITA Oracle Cup will feature players from Divisions II, III, NAIA and JUCO, who each compete in division-specific singles and doubles national championship tournaments. The winners of each division’s national championship then advance to a “Grand Championship” draw, and the winners of the “Grand Championship” earn a spot in the 2016 USTA/ITA National Indoor Intercollegiate Championships.

Russell concluded by saying: “We’re thrilled to have Oracle intersecting with all levels of college tennis, as well as with American junior tennis, a lifeline for the future of our sport. The expansion of the Oracle/ITA Masters, the addition of the Oracle/ITA Fall Junior regional events, the branding of the Oracle/ITA Cup, and the branding of college tennis’s fall season, all bring tremendous value to our sport from Oracle and for which we are extremely grateful. We are honored and proud to share a vision match with Oracle, a forward-thinking, innovative company and one of America’s great corporate citizens, the Oracle corporation. Both Oracle and the ITA are committed to raising the profile of our great sport.”

About the ITA

The Intercollegiate Tennis Association (ITA) is the governing body of college tennis, overseeing women’s and men’s varsity tennis at NCAA Divisions I, II and III, NAIA and Junior/Community College. The ITA serve all of college tennis, and returns leaders of tomorrow, by administering a comprehensive awards and rankings program for men’s and women’s varsity players, coaches and teams in all divisions, providing recognition for their accomplishments on and off the court. For more information on the ITA, visit the ITA website at www.itatennis.com, like the ITA on Facebook or follow @ITAtennis on Twitter.

About Oracle

Oracle offers a comprehensive and fully integrated stack of cloud applications, platform services, and engineered systems. With more than 420,000 customers—including 100 of the Fortune 100—in more than 145 countries, Oracle provides a complete technology stack both in the cloud and in the data center. Oracle’s industry-leading cloud-based and on-premises solutions give customers complete deployment flexibility and unmatched benefits including application integration, advanced security, high availability, scalability, energy efficiency, powerful performance, and low total cost of ownership. For more information about Oracle (NYSE:ORCL), visit www.oracle.com.

About Universal Tennis

Universal Tennis Ratings provide tennis players worldwide a common scale to determine their level of play. The 16-level scale (from beginners to elite world-class professionals), precisely and reliably determines individual players’ ratings based on actual match results without regard for age, gender or where the matches are played. The Universal Tennis website allows visitors to view more than three million tennis results. College Tennis coaches utilize UTR ratings for recruiting, for scouting opponents, and also to track the levels of their current players. The ITA currently uses UTR ratings to assist with selections and seedings for select regional and national events. www.universaltennis.com.

West Hills Racquet Club
The West Hills Racquet Club in Portland, Oregon will be the host location for the Oracle/ITA Junior Masters Portland Regional tournament that takes place August 20-21, 2016.
2016 Oracle/ITA Junior Masters – Powered by UTR

Feature photo: The 2016 Oracle/ITA Masters takes place October 13-16, in Malibu, California – hosted by both the Malibu Racquet Club and Pepperdine University, pictured here. (Credit: B Waschuk)