By Jeanie Peabody
Tournament Photo Gallery
Each year, the National Collegiate Wheelchair Championships are held in conjunction with the ITA Small College National Championships in Mobile, Alabama at the Copeland - Cox Tennis Center, home of the largest public tennis facility in the world. The Tournament Director, Mr. Scott Novak once again made the tournament a delight to play in and the facility was very accessible.
There were six schools that battled it out from Friday evening – Sunday afternoon. Players were representing their home town schools from the University of Arizona, University of Texas Arlington, Grand Valley State University, Auburn University, Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Central Texas College. Players competed in either a Tier I division (open/A level players) or a Tier II division (B/C level players) in both singles and doubles.
The first night was bitterly cold with winds coming out of the north that chilled everyone to the bone. The first round of tier I singles and doubles were played Friday night. Mat Farmen of Arizona defeated Scott Cole, Noah Yablong of Arizona defeated Jared Rehm of Auburn and Jeff Sale of UTA defeated Dana Mathewson for the first round. In tier II, DW Green of Central Texas defeated Jessica Sporte of GVSU, in the only match that night.
The first round of doubles was played between the UTA team of James Patin and Jeff Sales of UTA against DW Green CT and Dana Mathewson, AZ. Unfortunately, Dana sustained an injury during the match and was unable to play the remainder of her matches. And unfortunately, that carried over to the Women’s Singles final giving Sporte and GVSU the victory. We hope Dana is recovering and will be back practicing very soon.
As the singles continued on Saturday, Yablong of AZ defeated Sale, of UTA in one of the semi final matches and Marcus Causton MIT, a new face in collegiate tennis, defeated Farmen of AZ. In the consolation, Mathewson, AZ, had to retire because of her injury, to Jared Rehm, Auburn. She tried to play, won the 1st set, lost the 2nd and then had to retire because of her injured hand. In tier II, James Patin, of UTA defeated Jess Sporte, of GVSU in their round robin format.
In Sunday’s finals, as always, fans were delighted by some amazing, competitive matches. Tournament Director, Scott Novak made an unexpected showing at the player party for the wheelchair players Saturday night and asked the players if they would mind if he put them on the “center courts” for their finals on Sunday. Of course everyone was thrilled. The ITA Championship finals were also going on at the same time, which drew many spectators, many who were seeing wheelchair tennis being played for the very first time. We want to thank Scott for his courtesy and the opportunity to showcase some outstanding collegiate wheelchair tennis players.
The tier II match between DW Green of Central Texas and James Patin of UTA lasted for three sets on court 1. It was a cliffhanger but James came through to win the tier II championships. And later James stated, “After my first wheelchair match, I thought I knew everything I needed to know about wheelchair tennis. (He was a tennis player before his accident.) About ten matches later I know how much I need to improve my game”.
The tier I final was exactly what everyone hoped for. Three excruciating sets with Marcus Causton, MIT, defeating Noah Yablong in three sets, including tie breaks. Causton upheld his seeding. Causton said “the key to his victory was his consistencey and keeping the ball in the court. Being here for the ITA Small College Championships was a great opportunity to see the best able-bodied players and for them to see us. This is a great facility and the tournament was very well organized”.
Because of the injury Dana incurred, the doubles she and her partner would have played had to be defaulted. Consequently, in the end, there was a three-way tie in the round robin between UTA, Arizona and the MIT and Auburn team. After being finalists in the doubles last year, the AZ team of Yablong and Farmen defeated the MIT and Auburn team in a tiebreak. The decision came down to the number of matches played and number of matches won. The USTA decision gave the UTA team 1st place as they were the only team to play every match without a walkover and Arizona took second place. A super exciting way to end the 2009 Collegiate Wheelchair National Championships.
This event was extremely successful and a crowd pleaser. Everyone involved with putting together this event, including coaches, ITA staff, Scott Novak and staff, Officials, and Adair Haygood of the Volunteers of America have been absolutely wonderful. A huge thanks to everyone for making this event such a success.
Tournament Photo Gallery