NEWPORT, R.I. – The opening day of the inaugural Hall of Fame ITA Grass Court Invitational, held on the historic grounds of the International Tennis Hall of Fame in Newport, Rhode Island, featured pristine playing conditions, with sun-drenched skies and grass courts that even in mid-September, contained a nice lush green color.
Friday’s competition served as an introduction on several fronts. The Hall of Fame ITA Grass Court Invitational is the first collegiate event to be played at the International Tennis Hall of Fame, and it’s the first grass court national event in the history of the ITA. It was also the first broadcast by FloTennis, who are exclusively live streaming all three days of play in Newport, as well as a total of 15 ITA events in 2016-17. You can watch all of the action here: http://bit.ly/2bM5j0h. For additional information on the Hall of Fame ITA Grass Court Invitational, head to the official event page here: https://www.tennisfame.com/visit/events/2016/9/16/ita-grass-court-invitational/
Many of the student-athletes were experiencing playing on grass courts for the very first time, including Cal’s Karla Popovic and Alexis Nelson. The duo teamed up in doubles and defeated Harvard’s Sabrina Xiong and Annika Ringblom 8-6.
“It was a lot of fun. I really enjoyed it,” said Nelson, who also picked up a three-set win (7-6, 2-6, 12-10) in singles over Georgia Tech’s Nami Otsuka. “The footing is really different, but it was a really cool experience.”
Popovic, who bested Ringblom in singles, said the change in playing surface resulted in a different strategy in her matches.
“The ball doesn’t bounce as it would bounce on a hardcourt, I made to stay low so I’d be ready for those balls that would bounce low, and using my slice a little more than usual was helpful.”
Both Popovic and Nelson were honored to be a part of the historic event.
“We are very grateful for the opportunity and being here is amazing,” said Popovic.
“It’s a tremendous honor to be here,” said Nelson. “I’ve had such a great time for the day-and-a-half that I’ve been here and I’m really looking forward to the rest of the weekend.”
The two-time defending NCAA team champion, the University of Virginia Cavaliers, have two players, Luca Corinteli and J.C. Aragone in Newport. Both admitted that it had been a while since they’d played on grass courts, but relished the opportunity to play at the International Tennis Hall of Fame.
“It’s unbelievable,” said Corinteli, a senior. “It’s one of the tournaments that J.C. and I have looked forward to since the middle of summer when we found out we were playing it. You can sense the history and the atmosphere is unique and we’re lucky to be a part of it and fortunate enough to be invited to this event. Hopefully more guys from Virginia down the line can play and experience it.”
“The weather is unbelievable, the courts and really nice and the club is beautiful,” said Aragone. “The town also has a different feel to it; it’s a special environment.”
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