2023 ITA NAIA National Indoor Championships Bring Big Competition to Overland Park
The 2023 ITA NAIA Men’s and Women’s National Team Indoor Championships rolled through Overland Park Racquet Club in Overland Park, KS, earlier this month to much excitement–and it was made possible with a grant from USTA Missouri Valley awarded to Kansas Wesleyan University tennis coach, Josh Molino.
Last year, Molino applied for the grant in hopes to bring the NAIA Indoor Championships to Kansas for the 2023-2025 season. A lot of manpower goes into running and promoting events of this size, so the grant would be necessary to pay for things like facilities’ fees, prizes, hospitality, and a whole lot more. USTA Missouri Valley was thrilled to help Molino bring a tournament of this magnitude to Kansas, and awarded him the grant.
“We’re really excited to have this opportunity to host the inaugural NAIA National Indoor Championships,” said Molino. “I’m so grateful the ITA chose us and especially grateful to USTA Kansas and USTA Missouri Valley. [The grant] helped us with things like player gifts, and USTA Kansas helped with hospitality, so that grant helped make the player experience that much better.”
The NAIA showcases college athletic talent from smaller schools–talent often overlooked in favor of larger, Division I colleges and universities–so hosting the National Indoor Championships is a great way to offer players to highlight their skills on the court. Molino agrees: “It’s a great opportunity to showcase talent in the Missouri Valley section.”
The tournament field for each gender consisted of players from the host team–Kansas Wesleyan University–and the top seven teams selected according to the NAIA tennis coaches’ top 25 postseason poll from 2022. At the time of our chat, per Molina, 18 men and 10 women will be participating in the tournament, and the majority play on USTA circuits.
Ahead of the tournament, Molino was brimming with excitement for what the tournament would mean for the players. “We think that collegiate tennis as a whole is great for the student-athlete experience,” Molino said. “It teaches special skills and allows players to build lifelong relationships. This event is the pinnacle of that–it’s a world-class event we're gonna put out there.”
Kaiser University knocked off top-seeded and defending champion Georgia Gwinnett College in both competitions to bring the trophies home to Florida! Overall, it was an incredible weekend highlighted by even better tennis. Congratulations to all participants. Click here to view the men's bracket and click here to view the women's bracket.