MOBILE, AL.- The 2012 USTA/ITA National Small College Championships is taking place today and will continue until October 14, hosted by the Copeland-Cox Tennis Center in Mobile, Alabama, the world's largest public tennis facility, for the sixth consecutive year.
Each small college division (NCAA Divisions II and III, NAIA and Junior/Community College) features eight singles players and eight doubles pairs who earned spots into this national event by winning their respective USTA/ITA Regional Championships held over the past four weeks throughout the country. Over 8,000 student-athletes from NCAA Division I, II, III, NAIA, Junior and Community Colleges compete in the USTA/ITA Regional Championships held at 87 different college campuses across the country.
The USTA/ITA National Small College Championships, which dates back to 1986, is the only national championship event for singles and doubles at the NCAA Division II and NAIA levels. It is also the only tournament that combines all levels of Junior/Community College (NJCAA Divisions I and III, along with the California division). The singles and doubles champions at each divisional level will then compete to become the overall "Super Bowl" champions. The "Super Bowl" champions earn wild cards into the 2012 USTA/ITA National Intercollegiate Indoor Championships held at the USTA-Billie Jean King National Tennis Center November 8-11.
A number of the best teams in the nation have sent their players to this year's event, including seven teams that won a national championship a season ago. In Division II, the Armstrong Atlantic Pirates swept through the USTA/ITA Southeast Regional Championships on both the men's and women's side. In Division III, the Emory men and Williams women will be represented in the doubles draws in Mobile. The Auburn-Montgomery women won the singles and doubles titles at the USTA/ITA South Regional Championship, but will only be represented by Tiffany William in singles after having to withdraw its doubles tandem due to injury. In JuCo, Laredo Community College's Caio earned an at-large berth into the men's singles draw, while the Tyler Junior College women have two players in the singles draw along with the top seeds in the doubles.
In conjunction with this year's USTA/ITA National Small College Championships, the Copeland-Cox Tennis Center will also be hosting the 2012 USTA/ITA National Collegiate Wheelchair Championships. This three-day national tournament begins Oct. 12 and wraps up Oct. 14.
The most unique element of the USTA/ITA Intercollegiate Championships program is the fact that all levels of varsity college tennis (NCAA Divisions I, II and III, NAIA and Junior/Community College) are competing in one comprehensive event, and any ITA varsity student-athlete has the opportunity to play and win at the prestigious USTA-Billie Jean King National Tennis Center.
For complete coverage of the 2012 USTA/ITA National Small College Championships, including access to updated draws, please visit ITAtennis.com. Follow the ITA on Twitter, @ITAtennis, for updates and news from Mobile. Use the hashtag #SmallCollegeNationals for all tweets in regards to the event, or search the term "SmallCollegeNationals" to find others who are tweeting about the USTA/ITA National Small College Championships, Oct. 11 to Oct. 14.
-Don Sherman, ITA