Competitive battles abound in Southern California at the various Oracle ITA Summer Circuit events, a series Powered by UTR. The ITA collegiate tournaments have gathered some of So Cal’s top male and female players who attend universities from across the United States. Despite tough matches and extreme So Cal heat, one common theme seems to be outstanding tennis, supreme sportsmanship and camaraderie with deeply rooted friendships from junior tennis days.
The 2018 six-week summer circuit started on June 23 and will end July 30. So Cal sites are Chapman University, Pomona Pitzer, Cal State Northridge, Claremont Mudd Scripps, Azusa Pacific University and Cal State Los Angeles. Draws are based on Universal Tennis Ratings and they offer 32-player draws. Scoring is 2 out of 3 sets with a 10-point match tiebreak in lieu of a third set with no-ad scoring. Doubles are 8-game pro sets. Participants across the country can compete in the ITA Summer Circuit Points Race, which will conclude with the top five men and women receiving automatic entries into the ITA National Summer Championships at Texas Christian University.
Emily Dush from Chula Vista is a recent high school graduate of Laurel Springs School and will play tennis for the University of Utah in the fall. Dush has competed in several ITA Summer events in singles and doubles.
“I’m playing to get used to the college tennis format,” said Dush, a 10.22 UTR. “The competition is tough and the conditions are challenging. It’s giving me a look at what’s ahead.”
Jed Kronenverg, a sophomore at Pomona Pitzer, believes the circuit will help him improve his doubles play while Matt Sullivan from the Weil Academy sees the ITA events as a way to step into the college tennis arena. Ethan Prost, a sophomore at Loyola Marymount University, is striving to gain experience so he can make the top six at his school next year. Jennifer Kerr of San Diego, a two-time CIF San Diego Section Singles Champion, attends Columbia University and believes the summer tournaments will help her stay mentally tough.
There are a myriad of reasons that college tennis players participate in the Oracle ITA Summer Circuit including improve their UTR, refine their skills and strive to qualify for the national tennis tournament. However, one visible theme seems to be meeting up with old friends. This was evident in the smiles, hugs, laughter, high fives and gregarious group dynamics at each site despite the intense So Cal heat wave that brought sizzling 115 degrees through parts of July.
“I loved seeing my junior tennis friends because in a sense we grew up together,” said Gillian Parker, a standout at UC Irvine. Parker partnered with Julia Ronney from the University of Montana in the Chapman College event. The duo were finalists in women’s doubles at that tennis tournament, and have been doubles partners since the 12-and-Under Division in USTA junior tennis. “It’s like old times playing with Julia because we know each other so well. This was so much fun.”
Parker’s parents, Sheryl and Eric, enjoyed watching their daughter compete at both Chapman University and Claremont College. Eric is a PTR Teaching Professional at the Lawrence Welk Resort in Escondido and a leader in the San Diego tennis community. “This is great because the pressure of junior tennis is off. They are no longer in the junior tennis rankings race or in the hunt for a college scholarship. The girls are here to simply improve their games and that’s a great attitude,” said Eric Parker.
While all of the So Cal college sites are well known, Chapman University Coach Will Marino was proud to introduce his new five-court facility to the ITF community. The Erin J. Lastinger ’88 Tennis Center was completed in September and is perhaps one of the top in the Southern California Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (SCIAC).
It appears the Oracle ITA Summer Circuit has something to offer everyone in So Cal and throughout the United States. Many tennis players said they enjoyed great competition and outstanding sportsmanship, and all considered it an extension of their college tennis experience.
“As a tennis player, you should be a good sport.” said Dush. “Do the right thing because it’s the right thing to do, not because you want to win. It’s about playing fair.”
For more information on the Oracle ITA Summer Circuit Powered by UTR, please go to https://www.itatennis.com/ITA/Events/ITA_Summer_Circuit/ITA/Events/EventsCalendar/Oracle_ITA_Summer_Circuit_Powered_By_UTR.aspx?hkey=0e2b8779-8df7-4ff1-bd13-029c64860642.