2011 ITA/Riviera Women's All-American Championships Preview

  2011 ITA/Riviera Women's All-American Championships Preview  

The ITA/Riviera Women’s All-American Championships returns to the Riviera Country Club in Pacific Palisades, Calif., for a 24th straight season, featuring the deepest field of any women’s national collegiate tournament. More than 200 players are expected to compete for the first national title of the 2011-12 college tennis season.

The action is set to begin on Saturday, October 1st with prequalifying singles and doubles, which will be held on the campus of UCLA. Eight singles players and four doubles duos will advance out of prequalifying and move into the qualifying draws, which are slated for Oct. 4-5 at the Riviera Country Club. Eight players from the singles draw and four doubles teams from the doubles draw will earn the right to compete in the main draws of the event. Main draw play will take place over four days, beginning on Oct. 6.

Singles quarterfinalists, doubles finalists and consolation champions will receive automatic entry into the USTA/ITA National Indoor Intercollegiate Championships Nov. 3-6 in Flushing, N.Y.

A new champion is guaranteed for both the singles and doubles events, as Hilary Barte of Stanford took home both crowns a season ago, but finished up her collegiate career last season. The 2010 singles finalist, Jana Juricova of California, is returning to the Riviera Country Club. The defending NCAA Singles Champion will be looking to add another trophy to her collection by taking home the title this year. She is ranked No. 1 in the preseason singles rankings and enters the tournament as the top overall seed, just as she did last year.

Seventeen of the top 20 players are set to compete in the main draw. Notable participants include Mallory Burdette of Stanford, the 2010 ITA/Riviera Women’s All-American Championships doubles champion; Chelsey Gullickson of Georgia, winner of the 2009 NCAA Singles title; and Lauren Embree of Florida, who clinched the 2010 NCAA Championship for the Gators with her dramatic three-set victory over Burdette.

Clemson’s duo of Josipa Bek and Keri Wong, the team defeated by Barte and Burdette in the championship match last season, are also in the field once again. They begin the season as the top-ranked doubles duo in the nation, earning them the tournament’s No. 1 seed. Bek and Wong capped off last season by reaching the title match of the NCAA Doubles Championships, finishing with a stellar 34-11 record.

Fourteen of the top 15 doubles tandems have earned a spot straight into the main draw. Notable pairs in the field include Florida’s Sofie Oyen and Allie Will, winners of the 2010 National Indoor Intercollegiate Championships by virtue of defeating Bek and Wong in the finals; Stanford’s Burdette (hoping to repeat as doubles champion) and Nicole Gibbs; and wild card entrants Nadja Gilchrist and Gullickson of Georgia, a duo which ended the 2008-09 season ranked No. 7 in the nation and reached the NCAA Doubles Championships semifinals in 2010.

There have been a few ITA/Riviera Women’s All-American Championships winners who have gone on to have success at the professional level, including Jill Craybas (Florida), a player who is still competing on the WTA Tour at the age of 37 and reached the top 40 in the world in 2006; Raquel Kops-Jones (California), who reached No. 31 in the world in doubles in 2007; and Irina Falconi (Georgia Tech), who is already ranked inside the top 100 in the world in singles and reached the third round of the 2011 US Open.

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