Both the USC men’s and women’s tennis teams will begin the 2019 dual-match season thousands of miles from the familiar Marks Stadium Courts as the Trojans have been selected to play the University of South Carolina in exhibition and regular-season matches during the Australian Open.
It will be the first time collegiate tennis dual matches will be contested outside of the United States, the Intercollegiate Tennis Association and Tennis Australia recently announced.
The scheduled matches at the Australian Open will also hold the distinction of being the inaugural contests to take place on location during one of the four professional Grand Slam events.
“The Intercollegiate Tennis Association is thrilled to work alongside Tennis Australia to provide a truly memorable and unique experience to two deserving programs in USC and South Carolina,” said ITA Chief Executive Officer, Timothy Russell. “Being able to take our dual match product on the road and to another country is special, and we also look forward to showcasing the dynamic talent on the four rosters to those in attendance at the Australian Open 2019. This is truly an instance where we collectively raise the profile of college tennis, and I can’t wait to be in Australia to witness these matches take place.”
Both USC and South Carolina will be sending its men’s and women’s tennis teams to take part in exhibition singles and doubles matches against Tennis Australia National Academy players, and then will compete against one another in dual matches that will count towards both teams’ Oracle ITA Collegiate Tennis Rankings and overall won-loss record for the 2019 season.
“We look forward to welcoming US College Tennis to the Australian Open,” said Tournament Director and former Illinois men’s tennis head coach (Illinois won the 2003 NCAA National Championship) Craig Tiley. “I have first-hand experience of the high quality of tennis played within the US College system, and we also promote this pathway to many of our promising Australian players – it’s a tremendous way to achieve a tertiary education while staying on track to pursue a career in professional tennis. We look forward to showcasing college tennis during week two of the Australian Open and I know the players will enjoy their first Grand Slam experience here in Melbourne.”
USC Women’s Head Coach Alison Swain said her team was honored to participate in the first college dual matches to ever be played at a Grand Slam event. “The opportunity to travel to a foreign country and compete on one of the biggest athletic stages in the world is truly unique, and our team is preparing to represent college tennis with great sportsmanship, competitive spirit, and skill,” she said. “For our players, this is a dream come true to experience a new culture, travel, and compete abroad. I am confident that their time in Australia will reach beyond the tennis court for our athletes and be one of their most impactful college experiences.”
Added USC Men’s Head Coach Peter Smith: “We are incredibly excited to go to the Australian Open and take part in a Grand Slam tournament. To be one of the first college teams to do this is an honor. It will likely be a once in a lifetime opportunity for most everyone on the team, and we will start the season in a very special way.”