Alabama, Arizona, Dominate 3rd Annual USTA/ITA National Collegiate Wheelchair Championships

Alabama, Arizona, Dominate 3rd Annual USTA/ITA 
National Collegiate Wheelchair 


MOBILE, AL - The third annual USTA/ITA Collegiate Wheelchair Tennis Championships took place in conjunction with the USTA/ITA National Small College Championships, hosted by the Copeland-Cox Tennis Center in Mobile, Ala., home to the world's largest public tennis facility. The 2010 event took place Oct. 15-17, featuring several of the nation's top collegiate varsity wheelchair players.

The draw format included Tier I singles, Tier II singles, Women's Singles and Doubles with players from five participating schools: Alabama, Arizona, Auburn, Grand Valley State and UT-Arlington.

Tournament Director Jeanie Peabody explains, "Looking to the future we hope to have more individual players representing their schools and universities. However, players can also participate individually without a whole team attending the event. Anyone can play, even if you are only taking one course."

The Tier I singles draw featured a familiar face in Arizona's Noah Yablong, who has been a participant in all three USTA/ITA National Collegiate Wheelchair Championships, and has twice hoisted the trophy as the top singles player.

However, an old rival in UT-Arlington's Jeff Sale was able to upend Yablong before he could even make it out of the semifinals, winning a very competitive tiebreaking second set versus the experienced Wildcat, advancing to the finals versus Yablong's, the top seeds' teammate, Matt Farmen, the draw's No. 2 seed, who easily laid claim to victory.  

Due to the last minute pull out of two players, the Tier two singles were played by two members of the UTA team. Blake McMinn and Malcolm Wright played the best of three sets with Wright besting his teammate 6-4, 6-0 and 6-4, 6-1.

"My key to victory was consistency and keeping the ball in court," said Farmen. "The facility was great and the tournament was very well organized. I also think it was a great opportunity being able to watch the able-bodied players matches as well."

The women's singles draw pitted a nearby favorite in Mackenzie Solden, who though was competing in her first USTA/ITA National Collegiate Wheelchair Championships, came in with much hype and rightfully so. Though many matches were ruled default after injury once again affected the women's bracket, Solden didn't drop a set and took the title with a 3-0 record. Last year's runner-up, Arizona's Dana Mathewson, finished in second for the second straight year but was able to fight off injury, unlike last year, where she had to default the finals versus Grand Valley State's Jessica Sporte, who posted a 1-2 record in this year's tourney. 

The final wheelchair draw to complete today was doubles and it ended in an exciting fashion for the local Alabama Tide as the pair of Miles Thompson and Scott Douglas were able to put the clamps on two-time defending champs, Yablong and Farmen once again due to a tiebreaking second set.

The forty-plus duo, who have returned to college, showed why there is no age limit when it comes to competing strong in wheelchair competition.

"This event was extremely successful and a definite crowd-pleaser," said Peabody. "Everyone involved with putting together this event, including the coaches, players and the staff have beenabsolutely wonderful. We have been so impressed with community, the facility and the accessibility and would like to give a big thanks to Tournament Director Scott Novak and everyone for helping make this event a success."

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