Former Illini Ryler DeHeart.
Nov. 9, 2007
CHAMPAIGN, Ill. - 2006 University of Illinois graduate Ryler DeHeart and current U of I Senior Ryan Rowe have been awarded wild card entries in to the main draw of the 2007 JSM Challenger of Champaign-Urbana. The move guarantees at least six Illinois alumni or student-athletes in the main draw of the tournament, which is a record.
"I'm honored to receive the wild card," says De Heart. "I'll do my best to represent the Illini community when I hit the court."
De Heart had a solid summer, jumping nearly 300 spots in the rankings to a career high this week of 339. He dominated the Futures circuit in the U.S. before making the jump up to the Challenger level in August, where he qualified for four of the six main draws he entered, a strong accomplishment. A good performance this week could push him in to the area where qualifying draws would be a thing of the past.
Rowe just finished an amazing run at the ITA National Indoor Tournament, where he finished as the runner up to last year's NCAA Champion, Somdev Devvarmann. It's Illinois' best result at that tournament since De Heart's win in 2004.
The United States Tennis Association also receives two wild card entries, and has directed them to gifted up-and-comers Donald Young and Scott Oudsema. Young is a former junior world number one ranked 112 in the world this week, looking to possibly gain enough points to receive direct entry in to the Australian Open, 2008's first major tournament. The 18-year-old was raised in Chicago, before moving to Atlanta to form his training base.
In the past six months. Young has made drastic strides in the professional ranks, including earning his first ATP win over Amer Delic in August. Oudsema has had a late season resurgence, recently reaching the semifinals at a Challenger in Louisville, before falling to Young. He's currently ranked 289 in the world, close to a career high for the 21-year-old from Kalamazoo, Michigan.
The JSM Challenger of Champaign-Urbana begins on Saturday morning with the qualifying tournament. A total of 32 players are competing for four spots in to the main draw, with a total of seven current University of Illinois athletes in action, led by Seniors Brandon Davis and Ruben Gonzales. Those two will play each other in tomorrow's first round at 11:30AM. The top four seeds, in order, are Izak van der Merwe, Daniel King-Turner, Nikita Kryvonos, and Roman Borvanov. One round of qualifying will be contested on Saturday, one on Sunday, and the final, qualifying round will be contested alongside the main draw, which begins on Monday, November 12th.
Admission in to the JSM Challenger of Champaign-Urbana is free through Wednesday. Tickets for the remaining days are available at the door, or by calling (217) 244-3318.
MEDIA ADVISORY: Former Illinois stars Kevin Anderson, Ryler De Heart, Amer Delic, and Brian Wilson have all arrived in Champaign-Urbana and are available tomorrow and Sunday for interviews. The main draw will be posted on Saturday evening, and at that point, their schedule of play will be determined.
Saturday's Highlighted Matches: (all times after 10AM approximate)
10AM - Calon Alpar (USA) vs. Michael Rubin (USA)
11:30AM - Ruben Gonzales (USA) vs. Brandon Davis (USA)
Billy Heiser (USA) vs. Michael McClune (USA)
12:30PM - Brian Baker (USA) vs. Connor Roth (USA)
5:00PM - Izak van der Merwe (RSA) vs. David Martin (USA)
Brad Dancer: "Ryler means so much to the program, just by his work ethic and his determination to be successful. He's a tremendous role model for our student athletes. This provides an opportunity for him to further his professional status."
"Ryan is on a path of steady growth, both physically and emotionally. It's evident in his recent success. I'm anxious to watch him continue his progress."
Ryler De Heart on not being able to play last year due to injury: "That was one of the toughest things, to have to watch everybody out there. So it's nice to have the opportunity to be in the main draw and out on the court."
-A total of four additional players will qualify during this weekend "mini-tournament" for the main draw, which begins on November 12th.
-The finals will be held on November 17th. A time is TBA, after the time for the Illinois-Northwestern football game is announced.
-The main draw is made up of 32 players. It consists of 24 "direct entry" players, based solely on their rankings 4 weeks before the tournament begins; 4 qualifiers; and 4 Wild Card entrants, players who are granted entry by the tournament organizers or the United States Tennis Association.
-Amer Delic is expected to be the top seed in the main draw, which will be put together on Saturday night, followed by Robert Kendrick, Donald Young, Bobby Reynolds, and John Isner.
-The Battistone brothers, Brian and Dann, are both in action tomorrow. Both use a prototype double-handed racket, and Brian also employs a jump serve.