USTA Southern is debuting a four-tournament USTA Southern Playoff Series that will award 26 wild cards to the inaugural USTA Southern Men’s & Women’s $15K USTA Pro Circuit Event on clay. The series will give expanded opportunities to historically Black college and university (HBCU) student-athletes.
USTA Southern will offer eight wild cards to men’s and eight wild cards to women’s HBCU student-athletes for each of the two Southern Colleges and University series events. There will also be a junior tournament for 14- to 18-year-olds and an Adult Open playoff series for players of 14 years and older.
The winner of each playoff series tournament will earn a wild card into the USTA Southern Pro Circuit $15K Tournament main draw while the finalist will get a qualifying wild card.
The Pro Circuit event is scheduled for May 22-28 on the clay courts of the Athletic Club Alabama in Huntsville, Ala.
The USTA Southern Playoff Series will consist of four tournaments from March to May, with links to register:
- Juniors (clay), March 18-20, Knoxville, Tenn.
- Adult Open (clay), April 21-23, Jackson, Miss.
- Southern Colleges and Universities (hard), May 6-8, Jonesboro, Ga.
- Southern Colleges and Universities (clay), May 9-11, Winston-Salem, N.C. (Tues.-Thurs.)
“We believe it is our mission to create a continuum of opportunities for all players that are part of our USTA Southern Tournament Pathway, in particular HBCU players. Currently, we are strengthening our diversity, equity and inclusion efforts such that D, E & I will permeate our culture. Thus, providing wild cards for our HBCU players in the USTA Southern Playoff Series is an important step in creating more opportunity and a more inclusive association,” USTA Southern President & CEO Brett Schwartz said.
Players must be eligible to represent the United States as per ITF and Olympic rules and regulations. Collegiate players must be an official team member of a college or university in one of the following states: Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina and Tennessee. Juniors and adults must have a residency declaration in one of the nine states. The boys’ winner of the Southern Junior Level 3, scheduled for February in Florence, S.C., will also receive a qualifying wild card. Doubles wild cards will also be awarded to the Pro Circuit event.
Spearheading the series and Pro Circuit tournament are USTA Southern staffers Milagros “Milly” Sequera Huss, a former WTA player, and Maria Cercone. Sequera Huss will serve as tournament director of the Pro Circuit tournaments.
Sequera Huss explained, “Having a Pro Circuit event is a great way to engage Huntsville-area families by offering various community activities. Southern is currently planning numerous events, especially for kids. We want to offer free or low-cost professional tennis so the community can enjoy watching players from all over the world compete in their backyard. It is also a bonus to have the event during National Tennis Month.”
Cercone, who serves as USTA Southern Director, Junior Tennis & Player Development, added, “USTA Southern is excited to support the development of our juniors. The Playoff Series expands the pathways for juniors and young adults to move from boys’ and girls’ tournaments to professional-level competition.”