TULSA, OK – For a Division I collegiate tennis player, finding one’s way into the main draw at the ITA Men’s and Women’s All-American Championships is a daunting task. Players need to display endurance, toughness (both mental and physical) and above all else, play consistently good tennis over the span of five days.
Men’s players need seven victories to reach the field of 64, while on the women’s side, six wins earns one a spot in the bracket.
In the 2015 Saint Francis Health System ITA Men’s All-American Championships, just one player took the gargantuan leap from pre-qualifier to main draw competitor. Florida freshman Alfredo Perez defeated Northwestern’s Strong Kirchheimer in three sets, 6-4, 0-6, 6-2, in Wednesday’s final round of qualifying play at the Michael D. Case Tennis Center.
“It feels amazing and I’m very excited,” said Perez, a native of Coral Gables, Florida. “This is my first really big tournament in college and making it to the main draw, I think it’s pretty cool.”
Perez jumped out to a quick start against Kirchheimer, but was on the other side of the coin in the second set, failing to win a game as the match moved to a deciding third set. In that final frame, Perez regained his confidence and composure and that was enough to ensure his place in the main draw, which gets underway on Thursday with opening round play.
“In the second set, I thought he’d be tired but he came out and he didn’t miss a ball the first couple of games,” said Perez, who has dropped a total of three games in three matches he’s played that have gone to three sets. “I wasn’t expecting that, but in the third set I fought as hard as I could.”
As he prepares for the main draw competition, Perez said that his approach and mentality won’t waver from what’s enabled him to post a 7-0 singles record to this point.
“This whole tournament I’ve approached as a learning experience,” said Perez. “If I get tight and don’t play my game, I know it’s going to be tough to win.”
The 2015 Riviera/ITA Women’s All-American Championships also saw just one individual make the run from pre-qualifying to main draw. Pepperdine Luisa Stefani, ranked No. 5 in the preseason Oracle/ITA Division I Women’s National Newcomer/Freshmen Rankings, earned her spot with a 6-2, 6-3 victory over LSU’s Skylar Kukendall.
Stefani, who made her collegiate debut at the 2015 Oracle/ITA Masters, dropped just 10 games in her three qualifying matches. She has yet to lose a set in the tournament.
The 2015 Saint Francis Health System ITA Men’s All-American Championships and the 2015 Riviera/ITA Women’s All-American Championships are the second national championship tournaments of the 2015-16 season.
This marks the 11th straight year that the University of Tulsa will serve as the official tournament host, and most of the action during the two-week event will take place on the courts of the Michael D. Case Tennis Center. Live video and scoring for each main draw match at the Michael D. Case Tennis Center can be viewed at www.tulsahurricane.com, while updated draws and main draw daily recaps can be found at the ITA Championship Central page http://www.itatennis.com/Events/ITANationalChampionships/MensAllAmerican.htm. You can also follow the conversation Twitter by following @ITATennis and using the hashtag #TulsaITA.
For the 30th consecutive year, the Riviera Tennis Club in Pacific Palisades, California, serves as host for the ITA Women’s All-American Championships.
Updated draws and main draw daily recaps can be found at the ITA Championship Central page http://www.itatennis.com/Events/ITANationalChampionships/WomensAllAmerican.htm. You can also follow the conversation Twitter by using the hashtag #RivieraITA.
Men’s singles quarterfinalists, doubles finalists and consolation champions will receive an automatic entry into the USTA/ITA National Indoor Intercollegiate Championships on Nov. 12-15, held at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center in Flushing Meadows, New York. For the women, singles semifinalists, main draw doubles finalists and main draw consolation champions qualify for the NIIC.