For the fourth consecutive year, the ITA Cup is headed to the Rome Tennis Center at Berry College in Rome, Georgia. This year’s event will only host student-athletes from the NAIA and the three day event will begin on Friday, October 16th.
Student-athletes were able to qualify for the event by winning their respective ITA NAIA Regional Championship. Unlike many of our previous events this Fall, the ITA Cup will feature singles and doubles play.
The Rome Tennis Center will also have live streaming of matches available for select courts courtesy of PlaySight. The feature courts will be 11 – 16 and a daily schedule will be provided.
We’ve taken a look at the top seeds in each draw and analyzed their journey to the ITA Cup.
Federico Bonacia | Georgia Gwinnett
Coming into the ITA Cup as the No. 1 seed in singles and doubles, Federico Bonacia is looking to continue Georgia Gwinnett’s dominance at the event. In 2019, Georgia Gwinnett’s Jose Dugo won the singles crown. Bonacia won the ITA NAIA South Regional to qualify for the ITA Cup. The Grizzly junior has already had a legendary career. He clinched the 2019 NAIA national championship and Georgia Gwinnett’s 100th straight victory. He finished the 2020 season ranked No. 3 and No. 2 in singles and doubles, respectively. As a result, Bonacia was named an ITA Singles and Doubles All-American.
Valentino Caratini | Georgia Gwinnett
Georgia Gwinnett’s Valentino Caratini reached the semifinals of the ITA NAIA South Regional and was chosen as an at-large selection. He has had strong showings recently against Division I competition in ITA Tour: Fall Circuit by UTR events. In Week Three of the Circuit, Caratini won the men’s competition at the Georgia Gwinnett event. In previous weeks, he defeated Vanderbilt’s Ross and Georgia Tech’s McKinney along with pushing Florida’s Vale to a third-set super tiebreaker.
Santiago Perez | XULA
XULA standout Santiago Perez punched his ticket to the ITA Cup after defeating his doubles teammate, Shaikh Abdullah, for the ITA NAIA Gulf Regional singles crown. Perez made XULA history in April after he became the program’s first back-to-back ITA Singles and Doubles All-American. In 2019, Perez was selected as the ITA Rookie of the Year.
Martin Barbier | Cumberlands
Last year’s ITA Cup NAIA Men’s singles runner-up heads to Rome as the No. 4 seed. This year, Barbier won the ITA NAIA Southeast Regional singles title – the first of his career – to qualify for the ITA Cup. As a junior, Barbier was named an ITA Singles All-American after finishing No. 5 in the Oracle ITA Singles Rankings — the first Patriot to be named an ITA All-American. He plays at No. 1 singles for the Patriots and recorded a 7-2 record in 2020 before the season was forced to end early. Barbier will get a chance to claim the elusive ITA Cup singles title this weekend.
Federico Bonacia & Valentino Caratini | Georgia Gwinnett
The No. 1 seeds come to Rome with one thing in mind – avenging their 2019 ITA Cup doubles finals loss. Bonacia and Caratini lost to William Carey’s Fritsche and Klimov 7-6 (1), 6-3 in last year’s final. Georgia Gwinnett’s doubles duo heads into the ITA Cup riding high off of a strong showing in a competitive final against Reinhardt’s doubles team. The pair will look to draw upon their familiarity and experience playing together.
Luke Simkiss & Geronimo Barrios | Keiser
Coming out of the ITA NAIA Florida Regional, Simkiss and Barrios look to win the first ITA Cup Doubles Championship for Keiser. The duo is only the 5th team in program history to win the ITA Doubles Regionals. They dominated third-seeded Oervad and Zick 8-1 in the finals. In 2020, Simkiss was named the ITA Player to Watch. He will also be competing in the singles competition.
Chris Papa & Ivan Smith | San Diego Christian College
Chris Papa and Ivan Smith make up half of the contingency San Diego Christian College is bringing to Rome this weekend. At the ITA NAIA West Regional, Papa and Smith matched up against their own teammates in the final, Julius Kaufmann and Nick Nienhaus. Papa and Smith defeated the other team 6-3, 7-6. Kaufmann and Nienhaus received at-large bids to the ITA Cup. In April, Papa and Smith were named ITA Doubles All-Americans.
Eric Banoub & Martin Barbier | Cumberlands
The Cumberlands duo made history as they qualified for the ITA Cup. Coupled with Barbier’s singles win that sent him to the ITA Cup, Banoub and Barbier won the ITA NAIA Southeast Regional to mark only the second time in program history that the Patriots have swept the Regional titles. Banoub and Barbier joined Ricky Heath and Yew Ming Si as the only Patriots tandem in program history to win an ITA Regional title. The pair finished the 2020 season ranked No. 17 in the Oracle ITA Doubles Rankings.
Maria Genovese | Georgia Gwinnett
Maria Genovese is no stranger to the ITA Cup. In 2018, Genovese sailed into the JUCO singles final to secure her first ITA Cup title. Last year, she fell just short of defending her crown. Elyse Lavender of Brenau edged out the powerhouse in a three-set battle, 6-1, 6-7 (1), 6-4. Genovese comes into the tournament with a UTR rating that far above any of the other competitors. In the ITA NAIA South Regional, Genovese won all four of her matches in straight sets. The junior comes to the national championship confident in her play saying her game is much better than last year.
Yelyzaveta Velykorodna | Georgia Gwinnett
Yelyzaveta Velykorodna is continuing her excellent start from her first year of college tennis. The young Grizzly fell to teammate Maria Genovese in the finals of the ITA NAIA South Regional, but received the second seed in the tournament this weekend. During her first year, Velykorodna posted a perfect 11-0 singles record and was named an ITA Singles and Doubles All-American. She is one of three Georgia Gwinnett women players that will be vying for the title.
Lisa Khamassi | Keiser
Keiser is bringing a strong field of contenders to the ITA Cup and it is headlined by Lisa Khamassi. At the ITA NAIA Florida Regional, Khamassi upset her teammate – and top seed – Sarah Schaerer in the singles final. Khamassi earned ITA Singles All-American honors during her senior year. Now, she is taking advantage of an extra year of eligibility to try to win the ITA Cup.
Tomomi Nagao | Cumberlands
Coming off a stellar junior season, Patriots star Tomomi Nagao is ready to become Cumberlands’ first ITA Cup Women’s Singles champion. As a junior, Nagao won the 2019 ITA Southeast Regional to qualify for the ITA Cup – only the seventh ITA Regional Championship in program history. She was also named an ITA Singles and Doubles All-American. Nagao was a finalist in the 2020 ITA Southeast Regional Singles.
Angela Charles-Alfred & Lailaa Bashir | XULA
Dynamite doubles duo Angela Charles-Alfred and Lailaa Bashir are headed back to Rome to defend their ITA Cup NAIA Doubles title. Last year the pair won XULA’s first ITA Cup national title in thrilling fashion along with taking the overall ITA Cup title. The pair has also proven themselves against Division I opponents. At last year’s ITA Fall National Championship, they defeated UCLA’s No. 37 ranked Alick and Johnson. In addition to their titles, Bashir and Charles-Alfred were named ITA Doubles All-Americans after finishing No. 1 in the Oracle ITA Doubles Rankings.
Eva Siska & Maria Genovese | Georgia Gwinnett
Maria Genovese and freshman Eva Siska head to Rome to redeem Genovese’s loss in the doubles finals last year. Genovese took home the doubles title in 2018 while playing at Tyler Junior College. Genovese ended last year with an 8-1 doubles record. At the ITA NAIA South Regional, Siska and Genovese blew past Brenau’s Zambrano and Charoensiri to take the title, 6-2, 6-0.
Dugleisy Linarez & Joyce Nouws | Keiser
Keiser Women swept the singles and doubles titles at the ITA Florida Regional. Dugleisy Linarez started off her fifth year strong by punching her ticket to the ITA Cup. Before playing at Keiser, Linarez was a part of the Eastern Florida State and ASA Miami programs. Partner Joyce Nouws is in her second year with the Seahawks and her first year playing with Linarez. Nouws won 16 doubles matches her freshman year.
Sarah Urbanek & Angela Rinaldi | San Diego Christian College
San Diego Christian College’s Sarah Urbanek and Angela Rinaldi outlasted their teammates to win the ITA NAIA West Regional Doubles Championship and qualify for the ITA Cup. Urbanek will look to win another ITA Cup NAIA Doubles title as she won the event in 2018 with partner Geschke. This is the first season that Rinaldi and Urbanek have been doubles partners, but they have proven to work well together so far.