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Defending Champions Continue Streak
By Steve Pratt
HILTON HEAD ISLAND, S.C., – Two of the top teams competing at the USTA Tennis On Campus Fall Invitational both admitted to not feeling the pressure to win the seventh annual popular event kicking off the Tennis On Campus season and taking place at the Palmetto Dunes Tennis Center.
“I think there is a little pressure on us, but I would think there is more pressure on Auburn, since they won the national title in April,” said Will George, captain of the Fall Invitational defending champion Georgia Bulldogs. “Last year was a long time ago. There are a lot of good teams here, so we’ll see how it goes.”
Georgia opened with three wins in pool play on Friday and were one of 16 teams to advance on to the Gold Bracket championship rounds to be played on Saturday. Georgia had wins over Ferris State, North Carolina State and the Colorado School of Mines.
Meanwhile, Auburn showed its strength and depth in three wins in pool play to also advance on. Auburn had wins over Ohio University, Duke and Radford.
“No pressure on us,” said Auburn’s top player, Mitchell Vegas. “We’re just here to have fun.” Last April, it was Vegas on the court in the deciding mixed doubles match helping clinch a 23-22 super-tiebreaker win over the University of North Carolina – Chapel Hill for the Tigers first-ever national title.
The junior George from Georgia is a transfer for Division I Kennesaw State of the Atlantic Sun Conference where he played for the intercollegiate team as a freshman. George is an Accounting major who decided he wanted to focus his time on his studies, but loves Tennis On Campus for the friendships he’s made.
Georgia placed 13th at Nationals last year and have only one returning player from last year’s Fall Invitational winning team in Annie Marcinkowski, who actually was asked to join the varsity team in the spring but has decided to return to her Tennis On Campus roots this season.
Georgia is led by Stephanie Wei, who played intercollegiate tennis for George Washington for two years and serves as Georgia’s sole former varsity player they are allowed to use under Tennis On Campus rules.
Also going 3-0 on the day were Florida, Cornell, Georgia Tech, Vanderbilt and the University of Central Florida.
The winner and runner-up from the tournament qualify for an automatic bid to compete for the national title at the 2017 USTA Tennis On Campus National Championship at the USTA National Campus in Orlando, Fla., April 13-15, 2017.
LET’S GO, INDIANS, LET’S GO!: There is little doubt what three of the Ohio State team members from Cleveland will be doing each of the evenings this weekend. That’s because the Cleveland Indians are taking on the Chicago Cubs in the World Series. “Cleveland is on top of the sports world right now,” said Brian Chan, who grew up in the Cleveland suburb of Solon, Ohio, and admitted bringing one Indians t-shirt on the trip. Besides the Clevelanders, the Ohio State team is made up of two players from Columbus, two from Cincinnati, two from Dayton and one from Sweden.
ASTROS COME A CALLIN: Right in the middle of her 6-0 win in women’s singles, N.C. State’s Jessica Miller got an email she’s been waiting for. The 22-year-old Statistics major had applied to every major league team to do Research & Development analysis similar to sabermetrics made famous by the Brad Pitt movie “Money Ball.” The Houston Astros emailed her back and said they were very interested in her and requested an interview. “I’ve always loved sports and have always wanted to work for a major league team,” said Miller, who did advanced statistics for the Wolf Pack men’s basketball team, as well as match stats for the men’s tennis team while an undergrad at State.
HURRICANE AFTERMATH: This tournament was postponed three weeks ago because of Hurricane Matthew. A Palmetto Dunes resident since 1978, Mary Jackson said her family evacuated west to Columbia where they stayed at a Marriott Residence Inn for six days. But she said she knew some neighbors who stayed. “Every person I’ve asked who stayed say if they had to do it again, they would have left,” said Jackson, who has worked in the Palmetto Dunes Tennis Center pro shop since 1998. “Usually the storms have veered off, but this one never did. This is the worst it’s ever been.”
The tennis courts opened up a week ago Tuesday on Oct. 18, and storm debris and downed trees can be seen throughout the Palmetto Dunes grounds. The three golf courses at Palmetto Dunes remain closed and will be for some time, according to the local manager at the general store. “We did not get his as hard as others, and there are still tennis facilities on the island that are closed,” said Jackson, adding her home had minor structural damage caused by downed trees, including one that took out an air-conditioning unit.
RETURNING TO HILTON HEAD ISLAND: First-year Fall Invitational Tournament Director Newlyn Wing played this event for two years in 2012 and 2013 competing for the Ferris State team. Wing was part of the Professional Tennis Management undergraduate degree program at Ferris State. “It is great to be back,” said Wing, who after graduation was hired by the USTA and now works as a National Coordinator for TSRs, High School and Tennis on Campus at the new National Campus in Orlando. “We didn’t know if we’d be able to pull it off after the hurricane but it’s a credit to the venue here at Palmetto Dunes, and the other site we use at Sea Pines Country Club, as well as our amazing staff, and most importantly, our great players!”
FIRST-TIMERS: Radford University for one was happy the tournament was kept alive and postponed instead of cancelled. “We were so happy,” said Radford captain junior Madeline Johann of Richmond, Va. “This is the biggest tournament we’ve ever been to and it’s great to be playing all the bigger schools.” Radford is in southwest Virginia just down the road from Virginia Tech, which is in Blacksburg. All 10 of the club’s 18 members who were planning on playing this event Oct. 7-9 were all able to make it to Hilton Head Island, despite the date change.
Another first-time school, the University of Colorado in Boulder, were the beneficiaries of the postponement. “We were on the waiting list but didn’t get in,” said CU captain Jack Greene. “Then two weeks ago they called and said we were in. We can’t believe we’re here.”
To catch up on all the Fall Invitational action and for all stories and scores, log onto: www.tennisoncampus.com.
Friday’s Pool Play Results
Auburn 30, Ohio University 5
Duke 30, Radford 0
Auburn 30, Duke 16
Ohio University 30, Radford 4
Auburn 30, Radford 1
Duke 27, Ohio University 16
UNC-Chapel Hill (A) 30, Kentucky 7
Colorado 24, American 15
UNC-Chapel Hill (A) 30, Colorado 15
Kentucky 29, American 11
UNC-Chapel Hill (A) 28, American 7
Kentucky 29, Colorado 20
Cornell 23, UNC-Chapel Hill (B) 22
Colorado State 29, Western Kentucky 19
Cornell 28, Colorado State 25
UNC-Chapel Hill (B) 30, Western Kentucky 10
Cornell 28, Western Kentucky 11
Colorado State 26, UNC-Chapel Hill (B) 15
Florida 29, Clemson 13
Virginia Tech 28, Armstrong State 9
Florida 30, Virginia Tech 9
Clemson 25, Armstrong State 6
Florida 28, Armstrong State 7
Clemson 25, Virginia Tech 17
Cincinnati 24, Virginia 18
Georgia Tech 30, Appalachian State 12
Georgia Tech 23, Virginia 17
Appalachian State 27, Cincinnati 16
Virginia 26, Appalachian State 24
Georgia Tech 29, Cincinnati 19
Georgia 28, Ferris State 10
N.C. State (A) 30, Colorado School of Mines 10
Georgia 30, N.C. State (A) 15
Ferris State 22, Colorado School of Mines 21
Georgia xx, Colorado School of Mines xx
N.C. State (A) xx, Ferris State xx
Ohio State 29, Furman 17
Univ. of Central Florida 30, UNC-Charlotte 11
Univ. of Central Florida 22, Ohio State 20
Furman 22, UNC-Charlotte 21
Ohio State xx, UNC-Charlotte
Univ. of Central Florida xx, Furman xx
Vanderbilt 24, N.C. State (B) 19
Florida (B) 30, UNC-Wilmington 5
Vanderbilt 26, Florida (B) 22
N.C. State (B) 30, UNC-Wilmington 5
Vanderbilt xx, UNC-Wilmington
Florida (B) vs. N.C. State (B), late
Georgia College 28, Univ. Tennessee-Chattanooga 14
Pittsburgh 30, Georgia Southern 8
Georgia College 26, Pittsburgh 18
Georgia Southern 22, Univ. Tennessee-Chattanooga 21
Pittsburgh xx Univ. Tennessee-Chattanooga
Georgia College vs. Georgia Southern, late
Tennis on Campus Fall Invitational Past Champions:
2015 — University of Georgia
2014 — University of Florida
2013 — University of Florida
2012 — Duke University
2011 — University of Virginia
2010 — University of Alabama
The USTA Tennis On Campus program features more than 42,000 college students competing nationwide in intramural and intercollegiate club play using the World TeamTennis format. Since its inception in 2000, Tennis On Campus has grown significantly and today is played on more than 700 college campuses across the country. Developed by the USTA in partnership with NIRSA, World TeamTennis and the Intercollegiate Tennis Association, the Tennis On Campus program gives college students the opportunity to build leadership skills, network in a coed sports environment and compete on a college team without the rigors of playing in a varsity program. With year-round match play and regional and national championship competition, students maintain active and healthy lifestyles through their college years.
The USTA is the national governing body for the sport of tennis in the U.S. and the leader in promoting and developing the growth of tennis at every level -- from local communities to the highest level of the professional game. A not-for-profit organization with more than 715,000 members, it invests 100% of its proceeds in growing the game. It owns and operates the US Open, the highest-attended annual sporting event in the world, and launched the Emirates Airline US Open Series, linking eight summer tournaments to the US Open. In addition, it owns approximately 90 Pro Circuit events throughout the U.S. and selects the teams for the Davis Cup, Fed Cup, Olympic and Paralympic Games. The USTA’s philanthropic entity, the USTA Foundation, provides grants and scholarships and helps under-resourced youth and individuals with disabilities, and supports wounded, ill and injured service members, veterans and their families. For more information on the USTA, log on to usta.com, “like” the official Facebook page, facebook.com/usta, or follow @usta on Twitter.
For more information, contact:
Steve Pratt, BZA PR on behalf of the USTA, (310) 408-4555, firstname.lastname@example.org