Federico Herrera Duran

Federico Herrera Duran, Georgia Gwinnett College, stretches for a return against his teammate Mika Kosonen in the ITA Oracle Cup match at the Rome Tennis Center a year ago. Duran finished the 2019 Spring season as the number one ranked NAIA singles player.

The Intercollegiate Tennis Association will bring more than 250 of the best small-college tennis players from across the country to Rome this week for the fall ITA Cup tournament. The ITA Cup has been contested annually since 1986. It is the only singles and doubles national championship event for the Division II and NAIA levels. This year, more then 8,000 players have played in close to 60 regional tournaments to gain entry into the ITA Cup field.

Justin Cerny, championships coordinator with the Arizona-based ITA, said the competitors who will be in Rome qualified for the event by winning, or being the runner-up in, regional qualifying tournaments. Players represent colleges at the NCAA Division II and Division III levels, the NAIA and NJCAA, junior colleges. Both men’s and women’s regional competition took place at the Rome Tennis Center during the last month.

“This is the first year the event has featured expanded draws of 16 players in a draw for most brackets whereas in previous years we only had 8 players in a draw,” Cerny said. Each player is guaranteed a minimum of three matches during the tournament.

When play is complete in Rome, 18 champions will be crowned in both singles and doubles play. The eight singles champions and two doubles winners will receive a wild card entry into the ITA Oracle National Fall Championships where they will compete against the upper level Division I winners in Arizona this Nov. 6-10.

Cerny said that players are coming to Rome this week from as far off as California and Vermont. Play will begin Thursday morning and continue through the finals Sunday

The ITA has a contract with the Rome Tennis Center to conduct the huge tournament locally through 2021. Future dates for the event include Oct. 15-18, 2020, and Oct. 14-17, 2021.

Wednesday night, the Rome Tennis Center will welcome the players and their coaches with a special meet and greet which will include a banquet on the North patio of the center.

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