The final week of the ITA Tour: Summer Circuit by Universal Tennis wrapped up on Monday. Week Six featured the most tournaments of the entire circuit – 16 – and over 1500 players. Two conferences – the Big 10 and SEC – broke away from the pack and had the most student-athletes win Summer Circuit crowns. Despite the dominance of two Power Five conferences, smaller conferences, such as the Ivy League and Southern Conference, saw their student-athletes succeed as well.
With the Summer Circuit over, attention now turns to the ITA National Summer Championships by Universal Tennis. The Summer National Championships will take place August 6-10th on the Florida State campus. Selections for the event will be announced on Wednesday.
Big 10 Shows Up in Numbers
The Big 10 is consistently a major player in college tennis and the 2021 ITA Tour: Summer Circuit is no exception. In Week Six, six of the 32 champions were Big 10 student-athletes – which is two more than any other conference. Indiana led the way for the conference with three champions — all of which were from the men’s program.
Michigan rising sophomore Jacob Bickersteth is no stranger to winning Summer Circuit tournaments – he won the Week One tournament at Northwestern this year. Last year during the Summer and Fall Circuits, Bickersteth reached the finals in all five of the tournaments he entered. En route to his second ITA Summer Circuit crown, Bickersteth downed all of his opponents in straight sets and only allowed 15 games total between the four.
Three Indiana rising seniors won Summer Circuit crowns this weekend. At the stacked Butler tournament, Patrick Fletchall swept his five opponents in straight sets to win. Two of his opponents – including finalist Nic Meister – were fellow Big 10 athletes. In Kansas, his teammate Carson Haskins captured a Summer Circuit crown of his own. Haskins started the tournament by blanking his first two opponents and ended the tournament by defeating both of his final two opponents 6-2, 6-3. Vikash Singh was the final Hoosier to win a Circuit tournament this weekend. Down south at the Georgia Gwinnett tournament, Singh knocked off the Summer Circuit Points Race leader Maxwell Benson to win the tournament. Benson rolled to an easy first set, but Singh came back with a vengeance and won in the tiebreak.
On the women’s side, Nebraska’s Chloe Kuckelman won her second ITA Summer Circuit crown of the year at the Kansas Summer Circuit event. Kuckelman won the tournament after defeating four other collegiate players. In the finals, she downed Wichita State’s Natsumi Kurahashi in straight sets. She only allowed the Shocker rising sophomore two games.
Rounding out the six Big 10 winners is Wisconsin’s Charmaine Seah. Playing at the Iowa tournament, Seah defeated two Hawkeyes to claim the crown. In the finals, she faced Iowa’s Samantha Mannix. The Hawkeye – who has a higher UTR than Seah – took the first set, but was unable to maintain momentum and dropped the remaining two sets to Seah.
Ivy League Sharpening Skills for Return to Tennis
After taking a year off due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the Ivy League programs are gearing up for fall competition. As always, the ITA Summer Circuit remains an excellent opportunity for players – collegiate and junior alike – to compete and better their skills against high level players. Two women’s programs – Harvard and Yale – have incoming freshmen who have not only competed, but won Circuit tournaments.
In Pennsylvania, Harvard’s Angel You won her first ITA Summer Circuit crown. In the opening round, she shutout her opponent, but from there things got more difficult. Three of her four remaining matches featured tiebreaks with two going to the third set. In the quarterfinals, You defeated Week Three Summer Circuit champion Eliza Askarova in three sets. The Delaware rising junior took the first set by a comfortable margin, but You responded in the second to force a tiebreak – which she won 1-0 (7). The win was You’s highest rated win of the tournament – Askarova had a 9.61 UTR while You had a 8.60 UTR. In the finals, You matched up against incoming Penn State freshman Deanna Lasorda. You notched four games in the opening set before Lasorda was forced to retire.
Just a little farther east, incoming Yale freshman Mirabelle Brettkelly clinched her first Summer Circuit crown at the Wellesley tournament. The five-star recruit ran through a gauntlet of collegiate players to claim the crown. She started the tournament by downing fellow Ivy Leaguer Olivia Mariotti of Brown. Brettkelly posted identical 6-3 sets over the Brown rising sophomore. In similar fashion, Brettkelley downed her next two opponents with matching sets. In the quarterfinals, she defeated Wake Forest’s Maryam Ahmad to the tune of 6-1, 6-1. Then in the semifinals, she eliminated Harvard’s Rachel Arbitman 6-4, 6-4. In the finals, Brettkelly found herself – for the first time in the tournament – facing a player with a higher UTR than her own. Michigan rising junior Andrea Cerdan made it difficult for Brettkelly from the start. Brettkelly edged out Cerdan in the first set, but could not keep the momentum going and dropped the second set. In the third-set tiebreak, Brettkelly was able to seal the deal and take the crown.
SEC Shines in Summer Circuit
The SEC ended Week Six of the Summer Circuit with four different student-athletes winning tournaments — two of which are repeat champions. The total is good enough to be the second most of any conference — the Big 10 had two more champions.
The lone champion on the men’s side was Arkansas’ Nicolas Rousset. In Fayetteville, the rising senior won his second Summer Circuit event of the year. In the finals, Rousset faced the Citadel’s Hayden Shoemake for the second Summer Circuit tournament in a row. Shoemake improved on his previous performance and played a closer match, but Rousset still managed to win in straight sets.
Auburn’s Yu Chen won a nailbiter in Georgia Monday afternoon to claim her second Summer Circuit crown of the year. Chen won her first four matches in straight sets and only allowed seven games total. In the semifinals, Chen knocked off Wofford’s Lily Woods 6-1, 6-2 to advance to the finals. Heading into the tournament, Woods was the No. 2 player in the Summer Circuit Points Race. In the finals, Chen started strong against Clemson’s Cristina Mayorova and came close to closing out the win, but fell short in the second-set tiebreak. However, she rallied in the third-set tiebreak and won 6-1, 6-7 (2), 1-0 (9).
Down in Texas, incoming Aggie Jeanette Mireles won her first ITA Summer Circuit crown. Three of her five opponents were collegiate players – two of which were from Power Five schools. In the finals, Mireles faced Columbia’s Anna Zhang. Much like her previous four matches, Mireles won in straight sets to take the tournament.
Finally, in Tennessee newly minted Florida Gator Carly Briggs brought home a Summer Circuit crown. The Tennessee transfer did not drop a set the entire tournament. She faced five-star recruit Ellie Myers in the finals. After Briggs edged out Myers in a tiebreak in the first set, she went on to blank the junior in the second and win the tournament.
SoCon Student-Athletes Stand Out
While Week Six saw a sizable chunk of the tournament crowns go to Power Five student-athletes, two Southern Conference student-athletes held their own and brought home the crown for their respective schools.
Samford’s Alyssa Hayduk won her second straight ITA Summer Circuit crown this weekend at the North Florida tournament. The path to the crown was not easy. Three of Hayduk’s four opponents had higher UTRs than her, but that did not stop her. In the finals, Hayduk faced Hope Moulin of James Madison. Moulin held a 9.60 UTR to Hayduk’s 8.28 UTR. Hayduk dropped the first set, but flipped the momentum in the second and pulled off a commanding win in the third-set tiebreak.
On the men’s side, Chattanooga’s Jordan McClure won his first ITA Summer Circuit crown at the Middle Tennessee event. McClure’s closest match came against his teammate Kaisei Kuroki. The two Mocs faced each other in the quarterfinals and McClure defeated Kuroki in the third-set tiebreak. McClure also notched a straight-set victory over Martin Methodist’s Shizuya Kubo.