Lauren Embree led the Florida Gators against Stanford in the first College MatchDay event in 2013.
© University of Florida
By Sally Milano, USTA.com
Men's and women's college tennis will be in the spotlight like never before when the USTA kicks off its new "College MatchDay" series. The series will highlight several of the top men’s and women’s college tennis team matches each season, featuring organized activities and local events at each host team’s campus.
The College MatchDay series kicks off Sunday, Feb. 24, with one of the biggest rivalries in women's college tennis -- the University of Florida versus Stanford University in Gainesville, Fla. The men will then be in the spotlight on March 22, when the University of Virginia hosts Duke University in Charlottesville, Va.
The series will feature a team match every week beginning in 2014.
"There is so much great competition in college tennis, and we’re thrilled to be able to spotlight some of the game’s finest teams, players and coaches with College MatchDay," said Virgil Christian, Director, Collegiate Tennis and Market Development, USTA. "We’ve got four of America’s finest college tennis programs launching College MatchDay this season, and we’re looking forward to growing the series in the years to come."
Florida, the two-time defending NCAA women’s team champion, is currently the Intercollegiate Tennis Association’s No. 2-ranked women’s team and features two of the ITA’s top-ranked singles players, No. 4 Lauren Embree and No. 9 Sofie Oyen. Stanford, which won the NCAA title in 2010 with a 4-3 win over the Gators, is ranked No. 7 and is led by reigning NCAA singles champion Nicole Gibbs and No. 10-ranked Krista Hardebeck.
"Stanford at Florida is the ‘granddaddy’ of them all," said Florida coach Roland Thornqvist. "It doesn't matter who won what or where when we get together. Both teams fight until the end, and it’s always so intense."
The USTA has partnered with college tennis in the past, serving as the title sponsor of the USTA/ITA National Intercollegiate Indoor Championships, held at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center’s indoor Training Center, the USTA/ITA National Small College Championships, the USTA/ITA National Collegiate Wheelchair Championships and more than 85 USTA/ITA Regional Tournaments.
The USTA also names and funds its annual Collegiate Team, a high-level training program for top American collegiate tennis players designed to provide them with exposure to the USTA Pro Circuit in a team-oriented environment.