College Wheelchair Championships
Erin Maher | April 22, 2018
ORLANDO, Fla. – The University of Alabama marked off an impressive weekend at the USTA National Campus in Orlando, Fla., taking home its fourth title at the 2018 USTA Wheelchair Tennis Collegiate National Championships.
“I'm proud of this team and its unwavering competitive spirit,” said Evan Enquist, the University of Alabama’s head wheelchair tennis coach. “It feels great to stay the No. 1 team in the country, and we can’t wait to return next year.”
Maude Jacques and Shelby Baron led the charge for the Crimson Tide, earning spots as the team’s two highest point earners. In total, Jacques won six of her eight matches over the weekend, falling only once in singles to her teammate, Lauren Haneke-Hopps, and posting an impressive six points for Alabama tennis. Baron, a 2016 Paralympian, placed second in her singles flight, earning the team four points.ADVERTISEMENT
Together, Baron and Jacques, the defending 2017 doubles champions, won their doubles flight, securing their spot in the final. The duo put up an intense fight against Stony Brook’s Nathan Melnyk and the University of Florida’s Chris Herman in the title doubles match before ultimately falling, 8-5.
Team USA member and ITF world No. 51 Chris Herman dominated the tournament from beginning to end, earning a perfect eight out of eight possible points over the weekend. The 20-year-old native of St. Petersburg, Fla., the highest overall points earner during championship weekend, relied on his consistent serve and whipping forehand to win all of his matches at the event.
Seven years ago, Herman faced Baron at the Cajun Classic in Baton Rouge, La., in the juniors division. On Sunday, the two longtime friends squared off once again in the Singles Flight A final, where Herman toppled his Team USA teammate.
“It felt great. Shelby’s a great player,” said Herman. “I’ve been putting in a lot of work. I felt confident. I felt good coming out here. I’ve felt like I’ve been putting in the work these last couple of weeks.”
Rain did not damper the weekend, as play was able to continue by moving to the Player Development Indoor courts, marking the first wheelchair tennis matches to be played at the state-of-the-art facility, where America’s elite able-body players often train.
After play completed on Sunday, the participants took a tour of the adidas Center for Performance, taking in the Team USA area and the fitness center, where they were able to meet Martin Blackman, general manager of USTA Player Development.
“It’s inspiring,” said Blackman. “They have inspired all of our team. Not just the fact that they are facing these disabilities but that they are tremendous athletes.”
2018 USTA Wheelchair Tennis Collegiate National Championship Results:
Singles A Flight
1. Chris Herman
2. Shelby Baron
3. Chris Kelley
4. Jose Estrada
Singles B Flight
1. Maude Jacques
2. Alex Saporito
3. Lauren Haneke-Hopps
4. Nathan Melnyk
Singles C Flight
1. Auburn Smith
2. Sean Burns
3. Avery Downing
4. Piotr Pasik
Check out a photo gallery of all the wheelchair action here.