By Austin Shick
The sixth annual USTA Tennis On Campus Fall Invitational took place on Hilton Head Island, South Carolina from October 10–12. The event served as the kickoff to the Tennis On Campus season, which will culminate with The 2016 USTA Tennis on Campus National Championship—part of the NIRSA Championship Series—happening from April 14–16 in North Carolina. USTA Tennis On Campus strives to provide college students with opportunities for team building, networking, and competition.
At this year’s Invitational, 48 teams from 48 colleges from all corners of the country came and competed during the three-day event—and for the second year in a row, the Colorado School of Mines travelled over 1,700 miles to attend the tournament.
Last years’ finalists’ the University of Florida and Auburn University were in attendance along with most of their experienced players. “Everyone wants to knock off the defending champions,” says Florida senior woman’s player Natalie Boruk, who also believes there’s a target on each of the Gator’s backs. “We come here thinking we are the best team and we are going to win.”
The 48 teams were divided into pools of four teams each where each pool was a round robin and all teams played each other. The top two teams in each pool advanced to the Gold Bracket and into competition for the Invitational title. The Silver Bracket was comprised of the bottom eight second-place teams and top eight third-place teams, the Bronze Bracket of the bottom four third-place teams and the top four fourth-place teams, and the Copper Bracket of the bottom eight fourth-place teams. Teams had a minimum of six matches and a maximum of seven matches depending on their bracket.
The University of Georgia took down Boston College and won their first-ever fall invitational. Georgia’s captain Gram McNerney says, “Our new freshman were the difference, and our doubles play. Every line did great. It feels amazing. It’s awesome to win the Fall Invitational for the first time.”
On the other side of the final, Jake Sheehan says, “It was a tough match. Georgia is a good team. It was a really good weekend and something to be proud of. We have a lot of positives to take home and bring back to Boston. This shows that we can compete on the big stage and we look forward to Sectionals and Nationals.”
Georgia and Boston earned bids to compete at the 2016 USTA Tennis On Campus National Championship in Cary, North Carolina. Both teams faced tough semifinal matches to make it to the finals. Georgia pulled through over Virginia Tech in a tight match that ended 24–22 while Boston triumphed over Central Florida in another tight match that ended 26–23. In the third-place match, Central Florida defeated Virginia Tech 30–18. It was the first time Central Florida had played the event since 2012 where they also finished third.
We’re looking forward to seeing more excellent matches at the 2016 USTA Tennis On Campus National Championships in April! There’s no doubt that Cary, North Carolina will be the place to be for all tennis fans.