Who To Watch: ITA All-American Championships
The qualifying rounds have wrapped up and it is time for the main draw at the 2016 Men’s and Women’s ITA All-American Championships. The men’s event, sponsored by Saint Francis Health System, will have 64 competitors battling for the coveted first college Grand Slam of the year in Tulsa, Oklahoma. The women’s event, sponsored by the Riviera Tennis Club, will have 32 competitors duking it out under the sun in Pacific Palisades, California. Below I’ll take a look at some of the competitors to keep an eye on over the next several days.
Mikael Torpegaard (The Ohio State University, Junior) – Torpegaard is coming off a tremendous sophomore season that saw that Buckeye from Virum, Denmark, post a 34-5 singles record. Torpegaard finished last season ranked No. 2 in the final Oracle/ITA Collegiate Tennis Rankings after a runner-up finish at the NCAA Singles Championships. Torpegaard took his game to another level over the summer winning professional singles titles at the Finland F3 Futures and the Columbus, Ohio, Challenger as well as winning the deciding match for Denmark in its Davis Cup tie versus Finland. Torpegaard enters the All-Americans ranked No. 1 in the Oracle/ITA Preseason Rankings and is also carrying a career-high ATP singles ranking of 369.
Thai-Son Kwiatkowski (University of Virginia, Senior) – The Charlotte, North Carolina, native enters the All-Americans as the defending singles and doubles champion. Kwiatkowski finished his junior season ranked No. 7 and won a team best 39 singles matches including a quarterfinal finish at the NCAA Singles Championships. Kwiatkowski won a pair of professional doubles titles over the summer and made it to the singles semifinals in four different professional events. Last month Kwiatkowski won the American Collegiate Invitational, which guarantees him a spot at the 2017 US Open Singles Qualifying Tournament, so it appears that Thai-Son is ready for final year of college tennis.
Christian Sigsgaard (University of Texas, Freshman) – The Longhorns newcomer from Denmark has started off his collegiate career with nine straight wins including seven in the last five days. Sigsgaard was one of three players to make the main draw after starting in the pre-qualifying draw this past Saturday so he is definitely acclimated to the courts and playing conditions.
Hayley Carter (University of North Carolina, Senior) – Carter enters the Riviera/ITA All-American Championships as the top seed and preseason No. 1 and will be participating in the event for the fourth year in a row. Carter’s best previous result came two years ago when she made a run to the semifinals before falling to the eventual champion Robin Anderson. Carter won 49 singles matches last year and is just two wins short of breaking the school’s all-time wins record which currently stands at 131.
Francesca Di Lorenzo (Ohio State University, Sophomore) – Di Lorenzo made her collegiate debut last year at this event and managed to come through the qualifying draw and win one main draw match before falling in the second round. Di Lorenzo won 37 singles matches last season including five in New York City in route to winning the USTA/ITA National Indoor Intercollegiates. Di Lorenzo won professional singles and doubles titles at the ITF $25K in Winnipeg this past July and currently holds a WTA ranking of 365.
Ena Shibahara (UCLA, Freshman) –Shibahara has started off her collegiate career with six straight wins (all in straight sets) after coming through the pre-qualifying and qualifying draws over the last several days in Southern California. Shibahara closed out her junior career last month by partnering with UCLA teammate Jada Hart to win the US Open Junior Doubles Championship and so far it seems she’s transitioned over to the college game just fine.
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