2018 Wheelchair Tennis Collegiate
Erin Maher | April 19, 2018
Wheels will be rolling on Friday at the USTA National Campus in Orlando, Fla., where collegiate wheelchair tennis players from across the country will compete for the trophy at the 2018 USTA Collegiate Wheelchair Championships.
Thirteen of the best players in the country will descend upon the USTA National Campus from April 20-22 to vie for the title at the three-day tournament. Eight of the nation’s top collegiate wheelchair tennis programs, representing six of the USTA sections, will be in attendance.
“We are so very excited that the Wheelchair Tennis Collegiate Championships will be hosted at the National Campus for the first time,” said Wallen, who will serve as tournament director at the event. “We are looking forward to watching these amazing athletes compete and also looking forward to 2019 and how we will incorporate the Wheelchair Tennis Collegiate Championships in with the NCAA Championships.
The tournament, which consists of both singles and doubles match play, features a round-robin draw that will feed into knockout rounds. Singles is broken out by level, A, B or C, and doubles teams will be separated into two fields, gold and silver. The top teams from each field will play each other in the championship match on Sunday.
The three-time national champion University of Alabama will be back to defend its 2017 title.
“We just have a really deep team,” said Evan Enquist, University of Alabama head wheelchair tennis coach. “We have the largest team in the country, with six athletes. We have a lot of experience.”
Leading the charge for the Crimson Tide are two-time national champion Shelby Baron and her doubles partner, Maude Jacques, who will be making their fourth national championships appearance. Last year, Honolulu native Baron, who represented the United States in 2016 at the Paralympics in Rio, and Jacques dropped only five games on their way to taking the doubles title.
Another University of Alabama standout is Lauren Haneke-Hopps, a bronze medalist representing the U.S. on the 2017 World Cup Team. Haneke-Hopps was a member of the first American women’s team to medal at a World Team Cup event since 2003.
The singles side of the draw is wide open, as 2017 champion Hunter Groce, formerly of the University of Arizona, has graduated.
University of Florida sophomore Chris Herman, ranked No. 2 in the U.S. and No. 51 in the ITF world rankings, is a force to reckon with, according to Team USA Wheelchair National Coach Jason Harnett.
“He definitely represents part of the present and future of Team USA,” Harnett said.
Twenty-year-old Herman, a native of St. Petersburg, Fla., currently trains with Player Development at the USTA National Campus. He is also part of the Team USA men’s team, which defeated Chili, 2-0, at the championship match at the BNP Paribas World Team Cup Americas Qualification in March.
Herman will be competing next month at the BNP Paribas World Team Cup final, the wheelchair tennis equivalent of Davis Cup and Fed Cup, which will take place in Apeldoorn, Netherlands, from May 28-June 3. Herman, along with Todd Hanover of Southern California, and Casey Ratzlaff, will be the first men's team returning to the World Team Cup for the first time since 2016.
The USTA Collegiate Wheelchair finals will take place Sunday, April 22, with the championship singles matches scheduled for 8 a.m. ET and the championship doubles matches scheduled for 10 a.m. ET.