USTA National Campus showcases the best in college tennis
Last week, we concluded the 2021 NCAA Division I Men’s and Women’s Tennis Championships at the USTA National Campus in Orlando, Fla. After what has been a challenging year for all of us in the tennis industry, college athletics and the sports industry as a whole, I cannot overstate how great it was to be able to showcase these incredible student-athletes competing at the highest level on the biggest stage.
College tennis players were denied the opportunity to compete for a championship in 2020, and many players utilized the extra year of eligibility to return in 2021 to play one final year of college tennis, and to represent their university one final time. The student-athletes, coaches and all university officials were incredibly grateful for the opportunity to once again compete, and we are grateful that the USTA National Campus could be the setting for 13 days of elite tennis, as well as the camaraderie, energy and sportsmanship that is unique to high-level college athletics.
Fans across the country, and the world, were able to take in the action live on Tennis Channel and TennisOne as every single match, from both the team competition and the individual competition, were either broadcast live on television or live-streamed. And we were thrilled to once again be able to welcome fans to our events, capped off with sold-out crowds for the final four sessions of the team competition. (View a short recap video of the NCAA Championships here.)
I would like to congratulate the University of Florida men’s team and the University of Texas women’s team for being crowned team national champions. Coach Bryan Shelton and Coach Howard Joffe led two incredible teams who were deserving of their respective titles. And another deserving congratulations to our individual champions—Florida’s Sam Riffice and Virginia’s Emma Navarro became the first pair of Americans to win the singles titles since 2017—as well as North Carolina’s doubles duo of Makenna Jones and Elizabeth Scotty and Tennessee’s Adam Walton and Pat Harper.
While the NCAA Championships were being held, our USTA junior competition staff held a USTA National Level 2 junior event, showcasing some of the country’s top young players for the college coaches who were on site. This is a model we hope to continue in the future as we look ahead to hosting next year’s NCAA Division III Men’s and Women’s Tennis Championships. And we cannot wait for the ultimate celebration of college tennis in 2023, as we will be hosting the NCAA DI, DII, and DIII Tennis Championships at one site for the first time in the history of college athletics.
I would like to thank all of the people who helped make this event a reality, navigating a number of hurdles that did not exist when we last hosted this event in 2019, including the Covid-19 pandemic. This includes the NCAA committee members and staff, our partners at the Greater Orlando Sports Commission and UCF, and, of course, our incredible USTA staff. All of these groups and individuals are certainly champions in their own right.
College tennis is the aspirational dream of our youth and the USTA is committed to doing everything it can to elevate the sport to ensure the long-term sustainability of collegiate tennis.
Tim Cass is the Head of Collegiate Tennis at the USTA National Campus in Orlando, Fla.
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