ITA: In the Spotlight features an interview from the ITA Summer Intern, Paul Mairet. Mairet was awarded the 2009 ITA/USTWA Student Writing Contest winner. He is a current college tennis player at Macalester College and will be working with the ITA this summer to bring you coverage on the 2009 ITA Summer Circuit. For his first project, he spent some time with the founder of the ITA Summer Circuit, Lin Loring whom has shared his beginnings of the ITA Summer Circuit.
Lin Loring has been the head coach of the women’s tennis team at Indiana University for 31 years. During this time, his team has held a record of 677-239 and won 12 Big Ten conference titles. They have participated in 26 NCAA Championship tournaments. No other Big Ten coach has as many wins. Lin Loring is the founder of the ITA Collegiate Summer Circuit, which begins in July.
What led you to create the ITA Collegiate Summer Circuit in 1993?
There was a huge void in USTA scheduling for college players in the summer. The top two or three players from the top Division I teams could play the satellites. But for the vast majority of the Division I, II, III, NAIA and junior college players, they had nothing to play. And if there was something they could play, they would probably have to travel a long way to play it. So there was a real need for regional college play in the summer.
How is the Summer Circuit set up? What are some of the general rules/guidelines?
There are now 7 regions that have tournaments in the month of July. We picked July because many students go to first session summer school in May/June and some schools start as early as the middle of August. Also, we found players would like a short break after the season is over in May. So July seemed to be the perfect time to host the regional circuits. After that we have the National Championship in early August.
We really don’t have many rules. The host sites must have a trainer and one umpire for every four courts. Unless the weather is terrible, all players are supposed to get a minimum of four matches, two singles and two doubles. The host school is supposed to negotiate with a local hotel for a reasonable summer rate. Other than that, the tournaments are open to everyone and registration is on-line.
What role do you play in the Summer Circuit?
Now that this has assumed a life of its own, I actually do far less than I use to. In the beginning I use to mail entry blanks and tournament information sheets to every ITA member. Now everything is on-line. The biggest thing I do now is to help the Regional Directors select the regional and at-large winners for the national tournament. I also help the Regional Directors pick new tournament sites when we have an opening.
How has the Summer Circuit change over the years?
The biggest change has been the participation and the use of the internet. We have gone from 1,132 total participants in 1995 to 3,037 in 2008. We now have all tournament information posted on-line, entry is on-line and results are on-line. Also, we started with 5 regions and we now have 7 regions.
What makes this tournament series different from others?
This is only collegiate circuit, so that alone makes it different. Also, with a few exceptions, the tournaments are held on college campuses and run by college coaches.
Any particularly memorable years?
The most memorable year was probably the first. I had been pestering David Benjamin for several years to let me try this project, but he thought the USTA would jump on board and wanted to wait. At one point we both got tired of waiting and he finally told me to go with it.
I want to thank all the coaches that have helped out as Regional Directors and tournament directors over the years. They are the ones that have made this go. The biggest thanks has to go to former ITA Media Director Casey Angle, who helped out tremendously while we were building the circuit. Currently the efforts of the entire ITA staff keep the circuit running very smoothly.