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CiCi Bellis supporting club tennis at TOC National Championship final

2017 TOC CiCi Bellis 

 By Ashley Marshall

ORLANDO, Fla. -- CiCi Bellis is no stranger to playing big matches on big stages, but Saturday night she'll trade in her racquet for a microphone as a special guest commentator for the finals of the 2017 Tennis On Campus National Championship.

The 18-year-old professional will be one of the youngest people at the championship court for the gold bracket match between the University of California, Irvine and the University of Michigan, but she's excited to be a part of grand finale to the club tennis season.

"It's really cool," the world No. 55 said. "It's an honor that they asked me. I've never done something like this before, so I'm excited. Growing up, I used to play always at this park near my house with all my friends from school after school and it was so much fun."

Bellis turned down an opportunity to play varsity tennis at Stanford University, choosing instead to go pro after reaching the third round of the 2016 US Open. Two years earlier in New York, the then-15-year-old wild-card entrant, ranked outside the Top 1,200 at the time, burst onto the tennis scene by upsetting No. 12 seed Dominika Cibulkova.

Now, one week after her 18th birthday, the California native is training with USTA Player Development at the USTA National Campus ahead of the clay-court season, following a pair of hard-court tournaments in Indian Wells, Calif., and Monterrey, Mexico, earlier this spring. But she'll take time out of her schedule to support club tennis and share her expert insights during the final match of the Tennis On Campus season. 

"The most important part of tennis is about having fun and enjoying it," she said. "Keep enjoying it and keep having fun like they are right now, and if they keep practicing and improving they can get to crazy levels. It'll be fun to see how far they can go."

Newlyn Wing, USTA coordinator for Tennis On Campus, thanked Bellis for being a part of the championship, and he encouraged tennis fans across the country to watch the final, which will be streamed live at 6 p.m. ET on the USTA YouTube channel.

"I couldn't be happier to have a player of CiCi's caliber supporting club tennis and the Tennis On Campus program by being present at the National Championship," he said. "A huge thank you to USTA Player Development and all of their staff working with us at the National Campus. It's been a great event so far. And tonight is going to be even more amazing, so I hope everyone tunes in."