By Sally Milano, USTA.com
Two-time defending NCAA women’s singles champion Nicole Gibbs of Stanford and 2013 NCAA men’s singles finalist and doubles champion Jarmere Jenkins of Virginia are among the top U.S. college tennis stars who have been invited to participate in the 2013 USTA Collegiate Team Camp/Playoffs, where the 2013 USTA Collegiate Team will be finalized.
The USTA Collegiate Team is an elite training program for the nation's top college players that is designed to provide them with valuable exposure to the USTA Pro Circuit in a team-oriented environment. The program, which is administered by the USTA and the Intercollegiate Tennis Association, began in 1996 and is funded by the USTA.
The women’s camp/playoff will be held the week of June 24 at the USTA Training Center – West in Carson, Calif., with the men’s event taking place the week of July 8 at the USTA Training Center – East at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center in Flushing, N.Y.
This year's USTA Collegiate Team will include six men and six women, with each player earning his or her spot through merit. Twelve men and 12 women have been invited to the USTA Collegiate Team Camp/Playoffs, where the final members of the men’s and women’s teams will be determined.
All 24 players – the top eight Americans in the final ITA singles rankings and four wild cards selected by the USTA and ITA for both the men and the women – are invited to participate in the USTA Collegiate Team Camp. The invitees who have not already reserved a position on the team by meeting one of several benchmarks will play a round-robin tournament to determine the final team members.
Gibbs is one of five women to have already reserved a spot on the women's Collegiate Team, along with UCLA sophomore Robin Anderson, who won the singles title at the USTA/ITA National Indoor Intercollegiate Championships;Virginia freshman Julia Elbaba, the ITA Rookie of the Year; Florida senior Lauren Embree, who captured the ITA All-American singles championship; and Stanford freshman Krista Hardebeck, who achieved a WTA Top 500 ranking during the academic year (No. 279).
The players vying for the remaining spots on the team include Jacqueline Cako, a senior from Arizona State; Lauren Herring, a sophomore at Georgia; Danielle Lao, a senior from USC; Kyle McPhillips, a freshman at UCLA, Sabrina Santamaria, a sophomore from USC; Gina Suarez-Malaguti, a senior from North Carolina; and Mary Weatherholt, a senior from Nebraska and the 2013 NCAA singles runner-up.
In addition to Jenkins, the men's players invited to participate in the camp/playoffs include Andre Dome, a senior at Cal Poly; Alex Domijan, a junior from Virginia; Jeremy Efferding, a sophomore at Texas A&M; Mitchell Frank, a sophomore from Virginia; Marcos Giron, a sophomore at UCLA; Evan King, a senior from Michigan; Peter Kobelt, a junior at Ohio State; Ryan Lipman, a junior at Vanderbilt; Kyle McMorrow, a senior at Washington; Dennis Novikov, a sophomore at UCLA; and Ray Sarmiento, a junior from USC.
Domijan, Jenkins and Novikov have already earned spots on the USTA Collegiate team. Jenkins reserved his place as the 2013 USTA/ITA National Indoor Intercollegiate Championships singles champion, Novikov achieved an ATP Top 750 ranking during the academic year (No. 541) and Domijan was the ITA All-American singles champion.
An additional spot on the men’s team will be awarded to the American collegian who earns the most combined points in singles from USTA Pro Circuit Futures events in Indian Harbour Beach, Fla., Amelia Island, Fla., Rochester, N.Y., and Pittsburgh, as well as the Challenger in Winnetka, Ill.
This year, both men’s and women’s teams will have two coaches, as well as assistance from USTA National Coach Dustin Taylor. Memphis head coach Lee Taylor-Walker and USC assistant West Nott will coach the women’s team, both for the first time. Oklahoma assistant Bo Hodge returns for his third year coaching the men’s team and will be joined by Wake Forest assistant Brett Ross, who will coach the Collegiate Team for the first time.
Current pros who were members of prior USTA Collegiate Teams include John Isner, Bob and Mike Bryan, James Blake, Steve Johnson, Irina Falconi and Mallory Burdette.