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Rain Dampens Day 1 at Nationals

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By Nicholas J. Walz

Early rain and a not-quite-spring feel gave way to warmth and sunshine as the 2015 Tennis On Campus National Championship wrapped its first day of play, with 64 of the nation’s top club tennis teams facing off in Cary, N.C.

It was not to last. Before evening thunderstorms halted play for good, however, several clubs distinguished themselves as early contenders for Saturday’s final.

Pool play – a system where 16 four-team round robin divisions are contested simultaneously – has become a Tennis On Campus Nationals phenomenon in recent years. And the manic atmosphere of trying to cram what would often be a week’s worth of matches into one day offered prime sports theater for spectators at the Cary Tennis Park.

The winners of each of the pools advance to the 16-team Gold bracket, a single-elimination tournament that determines the 2015 champion and ends on Saturday night.

“We were having a lot of fun and seeing a ton of great tennis in between rain showers,” said Glenn Arrington, National Director of USTA Tennis On Campus. “Cary was buzzing! In my many years of being at this event and talking with the kids, it’s hard to think of a more enthusiastic, talented field.”

Most teams managed to get through two of their three matches scheduled for Thursday, and among those who swept their early contests were the defending national champion UC Berkeley and 2014 Nationals runner-up Florida, as well as a pair of last year’s national semifinalists in Purdue and Georgia, the latter a Nationals winner in 2013. For 2015, Purdue and Florida were placed in the same pool, adding the drama of early survival to their rescheduled match for Friday morning.

For complete results and updated draws, click here.

There were also a few noticeable stumbles by high-profile teams, including Gold bracket mainstay Virginia, who lost two out of three matches in Pool D. Iowa and Missouri, two of USTA Missouri Valley’s best schools, both went 0-2.

Pool play is scheduled to finish Friday morning, followed by the start of Gold, Silver, Bronze and Copper bracket play in the early afternoon. Despite the weather, the tournament’s second day of play remains on track to produce a quartet of national semifinalists. Each in the foursome would then try for two more victories on Saturday to earn Tennis On Campus’ top prize.

“It’s a more wide-open competition,” said Arrington, shortly after matches were called off for the day around 7 p.m. local time. “We’ve got a handful of first-timers, like Texas Christian, and also some clubs which haven’t been to Nationals in a few seasons, like Pittsburgh, who proved that they belong. So if you’re a UC Berkeley, Georgia or Minnesota, one of our perennial powerhouse teams, nothing is a given. Watching it as a fan, it’s great!

“Friday’s going to test everyone trying to get caught up – and we hope the weather is kinder than today was – but we’ve got a great staff and a top-notch facility to keep things moving and safe.”