NEWPORT, R.I. – Once the final match of the inaugural Hall of Fame ITA Grass Court Invitational had concluded, International Tennis Hall of Fame CEO Todd Martin could finally allow a brief moment to exhale.
Thanks to the tireless work of Martin and his staff at the International Tennis Hall of Fame, all of the student-athletes and coaches that represented the eight Division I teams in Newport, Rhode Island, were able to pack up their bags and head back to their campuses with memories that will surely last a lifetime.
“I’m very pleased,” said Martin. “It’s always interesting running an event that we’ve never tried before, and this was a different event from ones that we typically put on. The teams all loved the experience. We had a lot of fun off the court, and that goes a long way to creating a better experience. It was especially important for me that all of the kids could enjoy the museum and have a look around the Hall of Fame.”
Martin was impressed with the adaptability of the student-athletes that were faced with competing on an unfamiliar playing surface, but the moments that stand out for him actually took place off the court.
“Both of our dinners, to me, is what the collegiate experience is all about,” said Martin. “We had sixty to seventy people in a room a couple of nights, having a lot of laughs with one another, even though they were trying to beat up on each other during the day.”
Sunday also brought an end to the first FloTennis broadcast. For those that did not catch the action live, you can head to www.flotennis.com, sign-up and go back and watch the archived streams from all three days in Newport.
In the women’s flights, Vladica Babic of Oklahoma State went 3-0 in the Billie Jean King fight. She topped Denise Starr of Cal 6-7, 6-3, 10-7 and Rasheeda McAdoo of Georgia Tech 2-6, 6-1, 11-9 the first two days, and concluded the event with a 6-1, 3-6, 10-8 win over Harvard’s June Lee. Another Cowgirl, Sophia Blanco, went 3-0 in the Chris Evert flight. Blanco bested Stephanie Lin of Cal 6-4, 6-0, Kenya Jones of Georgia Tech 1-6, 7-6 (5), 11-9 and Nika Besker of Harvard 6-3, 6-3.
Karla Popovic of Cal was undefeated (3-0) in the Stephanie Graf flight. She recorded a 6-1, 7-6 (7) win over Katie Stresnakova of Oklahoma State, topped Georgia Tech’s Luc Fabian 6-0, 6-0 and Harvard’s Annika Ringblom 6-0, 6-2. In the Monica Seles flight, Oklahoma State’s Lena Ruppert defeated Cal’s Maria Smith (5-7, 6-3, 10-4), Georgia Tech’s Lena Ruppert (6-0, 4-6, 10-7) and Georgia Tech’s Alexa Anton-Ohlmeyer (6-2, 6-1).
On the men’s side, TCU’s Jerry Lopez was 3-0 in the Bjorn Borg flight. He defeated Virginia’s JC Aragone 4-6, 6-4, 10-8, Michigan’s Alex Knight 6-0, 6-2 and Princeton’s Tom Colautti 7-5, 6-2. Luke Gamble of Princeton posted an unblemished record in the John McEnroe flight, beating Michigan’s Carter Lin (1-6, 7-5, 10-3), TCU’s Reese Stadler (6-3, 7-5) and Michigan’s Jathan Malik 1-6, 6-3, 10-6).
Jimmy Wasserman of Princeton posted victories over Scott Martinson of TCU (7-5, 6-3), Kevin Wong of Michigan (6-1, 6-4) and teammate Payton Holden (6-2, 6-2). Gabe Tishman of Michigan was 2-0 in the Stan Smith flight, besting Gianni Mancini of TCU 6-2, 6-2 and John Carcione of Princeton 6-2, 6-3.