USA Back on the Court at the World University Games
Next summer the USA will make its long overdue reappearance on the university tennis scene. In August 2011, the World University Games will be held in Shenzhen, China. Our USA squad will hit the courts with a team of nine players representing seven different universities from around the country.
The World University Games, which are played every two years, attract more than 9,000 players and coaches representing schools from around the globe. Next summer, Shenzhen, which is located directly north of Hong Kong, will play host to the games in August. Formerly a small fishing village, Shenzhen is now China’s third busiest container port, a major financial and technology center, and a novel and modern cityscape. Players and coaches are sure to have a memorable experience competing in this vibrant city.
The head coach for the team is Ryan Freeman, a seasoned tennis player and coach in Denver. Ryan is preparing his squad to bring their A-game and represent the USA well. Joining Ryan on the coaching staff are Bryon Gill, director of the famed Rick Macci Tennis Academy, and Lauren Jones Spencer, Head Coach for the BYU women’s team. This coaching staff brings together the talent, know-how, leadership, and dedication the US team will need to bring home the gold in 2011.
A strong mix of men and women, the team met and practiced at the Rick Macci Tennis Academy this past summer. Busy college schedules mean the players and coaches will not come together again until August of 2011. Working in partnership with their university coaches, Ryan and his staff are dedicating the coming months to preparing the team for the 2011 games despite their geographic distance. Coaches and players will reunite in San Francisco before heading to China together for the competition.
"Due to the fact that I will not see the players again, it’s extremely important that I work closely with their coaches throughout the year. They are the ones dealing with the players daily. That's what makes this coaching job a little challenging, but I have total confidence in the abilities and dedication of the coaches and the players we have selected," says Freeman.
Nine players comprise the team – four men and five woman. The team captain is Gregory Hirshman from Stanford. Along with Hirshman on the men's side are Michael Sicora and Phillip Arndt both from the University of Minnesota and Eric Quigely from the University of Kentucky. The ladies team includes Aeriel Ellis and Krista Damico from University of Texas, McCall Jones from UCLA, Courtney Collins from the University of Memphis, and Maria Sanchez from USC.
As players and coaches focus on preparing for the competition, they are also faced with the task of fundraising. Since the NCAA doesn’t pay for the team’s participation in the games, Coach Freeman and staff have reached out to the tennis community for financial support. Thanks to a sponsorship from Tennis Superstore, a donation center has been set up through their site at
where people can show their support for the players. Other sponsors include; Solfire, official clothing sponsor, Solar Bat Leverage, official sunglasses, Power Balance Bands, and Whole Brain Empowerment.
Next year promises to be an important year for US collegiate tennis at the World University Games. Getting back into the tournament, this team hopes to show the world that the US is home to some of the best and brightest stars of the tennis world.