The ATP and Intercollegiate Tennis Association (ITA) have today announced a groundbreaking collaboration to accelerate the professional development pathway for players in the American Collegiate system.
The collaboration will see ATP Challenger Tour playing opportunities allocated to the highest-ranked ITA College players for the first time. This forms part of a long-term strategy to promote the rise of young talent in the professional game and builds on opportunities offered to the world’s top-ranked ITF Junior players through the Accelerator Programme, which came into play at the start of the 2023 season.
Players ranked in the Top 20 of the ITA final singles rankings at the beginning of June, who have finished their education, will be granted up to eight Accelerator Spots at Challenger 50 and 75 tournaments, with opportunities split between main draw (Top 10) and qualifying (11-20). Players who reach the quarter-finals or better of the individual NCAA Division I Tennis Championships will also qualify for the Accelerator Programme if not already eligible via their ITA ranking. These opportunities will be available from 1 July each season, beginning in 2023, for a period of 12 months.
In addition, players who remain in education and qualify for the programme will receive six opportunities over six months (July–December), enabling them to benefit from the programme during their college off-season and parts of their individual fall season.
Providing further opportunity, eligible college players who achieve direct acceptance into Qualifying of ATP Challenger events via their Pepperstone ATP Ranking will be eligible for promotion into the main draw.
Andrea Gaudenzi, ATP Chairman: “Today’s aspiring players are the future lifeblood of our sport, and we must do everything we can to provide them opportunities to reach their potential. We’re thrilled to be opening new doors to the American college system, which has been a bedrock of talent in our game for decades.”
Timothy Russell, ITA Chief Executive Officer: “College tennis is the connective tissue in the global tennis eco-system, an aspirational goal for junior tennis players around the world and a proven educational environment and competitive high performance arena in preparation for success in life, including as a career as a top professional tennis player. As an innovative leader in the world of American intercollegiate athletics, the ITA is honored to partner with the ATP in providing this new coordinated and motivational pathway to talented and dedicated college players.”
Ben Shelton, ATP Player and NCAA Champion: “College tennis is a great step to becoming a professional. You learn about playing for something bigger than yourself. I think it’s great that the top college tennis players will now have an opportunity when their season ends to jump into the pro game. To give players that are Top 10, Top 20 in the nation, opportunities to make big jumps quickly is really cool.”
College player eligibility for the 2023 Accelerator Programme will be based off the season-end singles ITA Collegiate Tennis Ranking sponsored by Tennis-Point, scheduled to be published on 1 June 2023.
More information about the Accelerator Programme announced in December can be found here.