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2021 Season Overview
Wednesday, 08/25/2021
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When it comes to college sports, the majority of people will think of sports such as American Football or Basketball, but tennis also has its own college system. And the end of May saw the finals of the Mens and Women’s Division I championships taking place. So let’s quickly recap how the passing season ended.
Men’s Division I Championships
Against the Tennis odds offered by most sportsbooks, the Florida Gators became DI men’s tennis champions for the first time in program history. It wasn’t a straight out victory though, with the Gators’ Ben Shelton beating his opponent from Baylor 2 sets to 1, even after losing the first set 3-6. But he regained his composure and swept the last two sets 6-1 and 6-2 to claim the win.
The singles champion was also a Florida representative, as Sam Riffice beat South Carolina’s Danil Rodriques. Again though, it was not another easy matchup for the Gators' man, also losing his first set 3-6, before winning the 2nd and 3rd set 6-1 and 6-4 respectively. A win that no doubt helped the Gators claim the team championship.
It wasn’t ever going to be a clean sweep for Florida though, as when it came to the Doubles championship it was Tennessee versus Auburn in the final. With Tennessee's Adam Walton and Pat Harper beating Finn Murgett and Tad Maclean. Sadly, it wasn’t enough of a victory to help Tennessee claim the team championship.
Women’s Division I Championships
Sadly for Florida, they couldn’t win both the Men’s and Women’s championship. Instead it would be Texas who went all the way, claiming their third championship in program history. It was Lulu Sun who would seal it for them, as she beat Pepperdine’s Taisya Pachkaleva in the deciding match of the singles.
Sun couldn’t win the singles championship outright though, with Emma Navarro of Virginia making easy work of Miami’s (FL) player Estrela Perez-Somarrib. And it was a completely different college winning the Doubles championship too, with Makenna Jones and Elizabeth Scotty of North Carolina, beating the Team champions Texas, as their pairing Kylie Collins and Lulu Sun lost 7-6, 4-6. 10-8.
What now for College Tennis players?
Well, the College Tennis season is over. So for many player’s it’s time for them to relax and have a well deserved break from plying their trade and their studies. However, many players will be competing still in non-college related tournaments, or at least getting plenty of practice in playing at local clubs with friends and fellow-teammates. Afterall, these athletes will be wanting to constantly improve their game, and that won’t happen taking too long of a break.
One such college player who continued playing over the summer was two-time NCAA Team Champion, the University of Southern California’s Robert Farah. An accomplished player from Colombia, he already has two Grand Slam titles as a pro, and was bound for his second appearance at an Olympic Games over the summer in Tokyo.
His appearance at the tournament was in the Doubles category, where he teamed up with fellow countryman Juan Sebastián Cabal. They managed to get off to a great start in the first round, where they won in straight sets (6-2 and 6-4) against the Spanish pairing of Alejandro Davidovich Fokina and Pablo Carreño Busta.
They then managed another clean sweep in the second round of the Doubles championships, with a convincing 6-4, 6-1 win over Austria’s Philipp Oswald and Oliver Marach. But sadly, that was their last win of these Olympic games. As in the quarter-final they could not beat the New Zealand pair of Marcus Daniell and Michael Venus.
Farah and his partner did give it a good go though, coming back from losing the first set 6-3, to winning the second 3-6. And they were ever so close to progressing to the semi-finals, as the final set went to a tie break. But ultimately, it was the New Zealand pair who came out on top winning 10-7 to progress.
The future of College Tennis
It’s definitely a bright future for college Tennis, and as seen above, many college players are already playing in international tournaments and have made it big on the pro circuit. But there will be many changes ahead of the new season. As with any college sports, players will graduate and move on, and go to play professionally elsewhere. 
Sadly, unlike other sports, apart from international tournaments such as the Davis Cup, there are no real team situations like when playing for a college. You either go solo, or end up playing with a doubles partner, representing yourself mainly, and in some circumstances, your home nation too. So for many players who may have been good enough to bag their college points in matches here and there, they may never actually make it as a pro as those team competitions are few and far between.
The select few who do make it though will have great careers ahead of them, and we’ll no doubt see some of them on the big stages such as Wimbledon one way. That is unless things change in the world of tennis, and more team events become a more common occurrence, which would be great for college tennis’ future.