U.S. DRAWS TOUGH OPENING ROUND
Greg Patton | December 1, 2017
Six of the top collegiate players in the country – UCLA sophomore Ena Shibahara, Pepperdine sophomore Ashley Lahey, UNC freshman Alle Sanford, Florida junior Alfredo Perez, USC sophomore Brandon Holt and UCLA senior Martin Redlicki – are currently in France to compete in the 2017 Master’U BNP Paribas International Collegiate Team Competition, the world's most prestigious international college team event.
For the ninth time in the last 10 years, Boise State men’s coach Greg Patton will lead the U.S. team at the Master’U event and is being joined at the helm by Ohio State women’s coach Melissa Schaub, who is returning for a second consecutive year with the squad. Team USA will compete against teams from Belgium, China, France, Germany, Great Britain, Ireland and Russia and will be going for its seventh straight title and eighth in the last nine years.
Coach Patton is writing a blog for USTA.com throughout the competition and, in his second entry, talks about Team USA's on-court preparations and off-court fun in the days leading up to the start of the 2017 Master'U competition. ADVERTISEMENT Stay tuned for more updates, and follow action from the Master'U event here.
Put your seat belts on folks, for the excitement for our American Collegiate National Team starts with the very first ball that is struck on Friday. We had the draw ceremony on Thursday night in the stately town Hall of Lille, France, and lo and behold, we are playing France in the first round.
This could be the championship match. France has reached at least the semis in the past nine years. We have played them in the championship match five out of the past eight years.
They were seeded fifth this year due to the fact they were upset as the No. 2 seed last year by a great Great Britain team in a match that was decided on the final point of the final match in a thriller.
The French are already flying high here in Lille. The French Davis Cup team just captured the Davis Cup crown over Belgium in front of 27,000 screaming fans. Our match won’t have 27,000, but I do imagine due to the history of our matches that people will be screaming as well.
To play in this international team tournament, to be the best, you have to play the best. We have incredible respect for the French team. So we are going into this battle with chin straps pulled tight. The intense rivalry between our top American collegiate stars with the French has been going on from the second I started coaching the Americans nine years ago. This won't be a tea party Friday, it will be a rock & roll concert with the balls screeching the second we hit the shore of the tennis courts of this northern French city.
We are ready to roll. We had a great practice on Thursday and got some deliberate training in during the morning session. After lunch we slipped onto some practice courts for some crunching doubles play (the doubles always determine the team winner in these crucial nail-biting matches). Just to keep the juices flowing and our team at a heightened sense of living, we combined our three women and three men into two teams of triples. We got to tie your laces twice with this fast-paced rocker, for our Americans were shooting missiles during this game.
Our team match with the French will not be a sprint, but an all-day-long marathon that tests the endurance of all the players. We play our entire match of seven matches on one court. Setting the table for us will be:
Match One – No. 2 women's single player: Alle Sanford (UNC)
Match Two – No. 2 men's singles: Martin Redlicki (UCLA)
Match Three – No. 1 women's singles: Ashley Lahey (Pepperdine)
Match Four – No. 1 singles men's singles match: Brandon Holt (USC)
The drama doesn't stop here, but keeps coming at you with:
Match Five – Women's doubles: Alle Sanford (UNC) & Ena Shibahara (UCLA)
Match Six – Men's doubles: Alfredo Perez (Florida) & Martin Redlicki (UCLA)
Match Seven – Mixed doubles: Brandon Holt (USC) & Ena Shibahara (UCLA)
**First team to win four victories wins the team match. We still play out the individual matches even when the team outcome is determined.
We had a Great USA team meeting Thursday in which it was visibly apparent that our players have an undying passion to play. What I love about their passion is that it is fueled by purpose. The clock is clicking, for our date with destiny is only several hours away.
USA (#1) vs. France (#5)
Germany (#4) vs. Belgium (#6)
Great Britain (#3) vs. Ireland (#7)
Russia (#2) vs. China (#8)
Ed. note: Team USA defeated France, 4-2, to advance to the semifinals, where it will face Germany.