College Tennis in Australian Open 2017

by Dominic Tinodi

The much-awaited first Grand Slam of the year sees the first season appearance of a huge number of players, who have sharpened their skills at college in the early years of their career. Find out what schools the players attended and in which conference they competed!

Photo credit: Richard Fisher

Day 6 of the main draw events begins in a few hours and the tournament is about to become interesting. And interesting it's been, considering the surprising loss of former champion Djokovic.
But this article will be about the former collegians of course, whose names could be found in any of the below draws:

  • Men's & women's qualifying singles
  • Men's & women's main draw singles
  • Men's & women's main draw doubles

How have they been doing so far?

Before we dig into all 3 of the tournament's segments, let's have a look at the total pool of athletes before.
There were a total of 46 (!!!) players set to compete, with lots of them still left in the draws. But what teams did they play for and in what conferences did they make a name for themselves as college student athletes?



By far the strongest conference, "providing" 14 players in total is the Pac-12 with 5 former Stanford and 5 former UCLA athletes. In second place comes the SEC in which 10 Australian Open participants have competed! The ACC with 8 players, is interestingly enough the conference home to 2 of the strongest teams at the moment: Virginia on the men's and North Carolina on the women's side.
The Virginia Cavaliers men's team tops the latest ITA Rankings whereas the North Carolina Tar Heels ladies rank second (ITA Team Rankings: January 18, 2017). An indication for what the pro circuit can expect to see a few years from now ...?

Singles Qualifying

Out of the 46 players, 18 started out in the qualifying events. While there were only 3 former players on the women's side, college tennis provided 15 of the 128 participants on the men's side! 2 of the usual names on the Grand Slam qualifying level - Aleksandr Nedovyesov (KAZ) and Jason Jung (TPE) were set to compete, but withdrew their entry.

Sekou Bangora - Florida (SEC)

JP Smith - Tennessee (SEC)

Alex Sarkissian - Pepperdine (WCC)

Scott Jones - Tennessee (SEC)

Saketh Myneni - Alabama (SEC)

Tennys Sandgren - Tennessee (SEC)

Marcelo Arevalo - Tulsa (American)

Rajeev Ram - Illinois (Big Ten)

Benjamin Becker - Baylor (Big 12)

Bradley Klahn - Stanford (Pac-12)

Dennis Novikov - UCLA (Pac-12)

Matija Pecotic - Princeton (Ivy)

Jose Hernandez-Fernandez - North Carolina (ACC)

Noah Rubin - Wake Forest (ACC)

James McGee - NC State (ACC)

Jennifer Brady - UCLA (Pac-12)

Jamie Loeb - North Carolina (ACC)

Ellen Perez - Georgia (SEC)

2 players won all 3 rounds to secure a spot in the main draw: Noah Rubin and Jennifer Brady.
And they did even more than that!

Noah Rubin beat fellow American Bjorn Fratangelo in 5 sets, earning a ticket to the second round on the Center Court against Roger Federer. While he fell short in straight sets, Jennifer Brady is set to play her third round match in a few hours, having successfully closed a real thriller against Watson (GBR) in Round 2:

JP Smith, Rajeev Ram, and James McGee made it all the way to the third round of the qualifying, but all three fell short against their opponents. Click here for the full qualifying draw.

Singles Main Draw

With Kevin Anderson (RSA) missing, there were only two guys (+Noah Rubin) in the main draw on the men's side. On the women's side, the usual collegians Nicole Gibbs and Irina Falconi were directly qualified:

Steve Johnson - USC (Pac-12)

Nicole Gibbs - Stanford (Pac-12)

John Isner - Georgia (SEC)

Irina Falconi - Georgia Tech (ACC)

Apart from the youngsters Brady and Rubin, the other collegians have not had the best of all Grand Slam tournaments. Steve Johnson and John Isner both won their first round matches, but fell short in the second round:
Round 2
John Isner vs Mischa Zverev 7-6 7-6 4-6 6-7 7-9
Steve Johnson vs Stan Wawrinka 4-6 4-6 4-6

Falconi and Gibbs made it the the second round, where they were then set to compete against each other with Gibbs leaving the court as the lucky winner:
Round 2
Nicole Gibbs vs Irina Falconi 6-4 6-1

The college tennis hopes are with the ladies this time of the year. Let's hope Brady and Gibbs will be able to add a few more wins to their record down under!

Doubles Main Draw

Finally, the doubles draws see an armada of strong college players, of which several have showed that they are always in the position to win the title. Round 1 has just been completed, so the tournament hasn't yet picked up speed, but give it a day or two and you will have a better idea if any of below players (+ partner of course) could go deep in this year's Australian Open:

Andre Begemann - Pepperdine (WCC)

Mike Bryan - Stanford (Pac-12)

Robert Farah - USC (Pac-12)

Bob Bryan - Stanford (Pac-12)

Treat Huey - Virginia (ACC)

Dominic Inglot - Virginia (ACC)

Robert Lindstedt - Pepperdine (WCC)

Scott Lipsky - Stanford (Pac-12)

Marcin Matkowski - UCLA (Pac-12)

Nicholas Monroe - North Carolina (ACC)

John Peers - Baylor (Big 12)

Rajeev Ram - Illinois (Big Ten)

Jean-Julien Rojer - UCLA (Pac-12)

Andreas Siljestrom - Middle Tennessee (Conference USA)

JP Smith - Tennessee (SEC)

Michael Venus - LSU (SEC)

Adil Shamasdin - Brown (Ivy)

James Cerretani - Brown (Ivy)

Johan Brunstrom - Tennessee (SEC)

Ken Skupski - LSU (SEC)

Purav Raja - Loyola Marymount (WCC)

Neal Skupski - LSU (SEC)

Maria Sanchez - USC (Pac-12)

Abigail Spears - UCLA (Pac-12)

Rachel Atawo - Cal (Pac-12)

Nicole Gibbs - Stanford (Pac-12)

Megan Moulton-Levy - William & Mary (CAA)

Ellen Perez - Georgia (SEC)

In case you haven't taken a look at Bobby Knight's coverage over at College Tennis Today yet, check it out! He provides wonderful coverage of all things related to college tennis (on the tour) and chances are you'll find all the updated results of the above players collected on his site over the upcoming days!

46 players battling it out in the Australian summer in Melbourne right now - 46 players; that's a lot of credibility for college tennis.
Did we catch your attention? Check out one of our most popular articles ever here on Smarthlete: "Top 4 Reasons College Tennis is the Best Choice for Aspiring Professionals".

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