Current and Past Illini to Compete in JSM Challenger
Nov. 10, 2013
URBANA, Ill. - The United States Tennis Association (USTA) released the official main draw for the 18th annual JSM Challenger this weekend. The pro circuit event runs from Nov. 11-16 at the Atkins Tennis Center in Urbana, Ill. The JSM Challenger is the final pit stop of the USTA pro circuit season and the last opportunity to earn points into the Australian Open.
Illini fans will get a chance to see past and present collide. No. 3 seed Rajeev Ram will look to establish some old home court advantage at a place where he won a National Championship back in 2003. Ram is a three-time Champaign doubles champion who has reached the quarterfinals in doubles at the Australian Open, French Open and Wimbledon.
Two-time All-American Dennis Nevolo returns as well, earning a wild card entry. Nevolo is scheduled for the last match Monday evening. In addition, current Illini in the main singles draw include Jared Hiltzik and Tim Kopinski.
In doubles, past and present literally collide as Nevolo is paired with Farris Gosea as they try to qualify. Ram is also the three-seed in the doubles main draw, teaming with Rik De Voest. Furthermore, wild card entries include the teams of Tim Kopinski/Ross Guignon and Jared Hiltzik/Alex Jesse.
Highlighting the tournament field is the No. 1 seed and 2012 singles champion Tim Smyczek. The 5-foot-9 American has had a breakout year, advancing to the second round of the Australian Open and third round of the U.S. Open. As a result, Smyczek cracked the Top-100 rankings and currently checks in at No. 82 in the world.
Last year’s runner up Jack Sock returns to the field, earning the No. 2 seed. Sock qualified for the 2013 French Open and reached the third round of the U.S. open in both 2012 and 2013. Sock peaked at No. 78 in the world in October.
Alex Kuznetsov has also tasted victory in Champaign-Urbana, winning the Challenger singles title in 2011. Kuznetsov’s summer included qualifying for both the French Open and Wimbledon and winning the $50,000 Challenger in Binghampton, N.Y.
The 2011 runner-up, Rik De Voest, was awarded the sixth seed. De Voest has seen great success here in doubles as well, claiming the title in both 2011 and 2006.
Rounding out the top-eight seeds is No. 5 Peter Polansky of Canada, No. 7 Samuel Groth of Australia and No. 8 John-Patrick Smith of Australia.
For those who wish to see the action live, admission to the JSM is free Nov. 11-13, then $8 for adults and $5 for students and children starting for the quarterfinal round and on (Nov. 14-16). For those who want to follow the action at home, go to procircuit.usta.com for live streaming.
About the USTA Pro Circuit:
With approximately 90 tournaments hosted annually throughout the country and prize money ranging from $10,000-$100,000, the USTA Pro Circuit is the pathway to the US Open and tour-level competition for aspiring tennis players and a frequent battleground for established professionals. The USTA launched its Pro Circuit 34 years ago to provide players with the opportunity to gain professional ranking points, and it has since grown to become the largest developmental tennis circuit in the world, offering nearly $3 million in prize money. Last year, more than 1,000 men and women from more than 70 countries competed in cities nationwide. Mardy Fish, Maria Sharapova, John Isner, Caroline Wozniacki, Sam Querrey, Li Na and Andy Murray are among today’s top stars who began their careers on the USTA Pro Circuit.
# # #