May marks the return of one of the biggest events on the USTA National Campus calendar: the NCAA Division I Men’s and Women’s Tennis Championships. The event will be held May 16-28 at the Collegiate Center as the nation’s top college tennis teams and players will look to be crowned national champions.
The event came to Lake Nona for the first time in 2019 as the USTA National Campus became the first non-university campus to host the Division I tennis championships in the history of the sport. Nearly 12,000 fans enjoyed the 10 days of tennis, which included both the team and individual championships. There were also more than 50 hours of the event televised nationally on the Tennis Channel, a first for the sport, bringing incredible exposure to both the event and the USTA National Campus.
In those 2019 championships, the Stanford University women’s tennis team won their record 20th national title while the University of Texas men’s team won the program’s first. In the individual event, the University of Miami’s Estela Perez-Somarriba won the women’s singles title and Paul Jubb from the University of South Carolina took home the men’s singles crown.
After the 2020 tennis season was brought to an abrupt halt due to the coronavirus, the NCAA canceled all of its spring championships. So, with the campus already slated to host the 2021 edition of the event, Lake Nona will now have the opportunity to host back-to-back NCAA championships.
One difference in 2021 is that the campus will be hosting the Round of 16 in addition to the quarterfinals through the finals of the team event, meaning this year’s event will extend to 13 days of tennis action. The decision to bring an extra competition round to the campus was made by the NCAA as part of its health and safety protocols, with the desire to limit university travel.
The championships will feature enhanced health and safety protocols, which include limited capacity for fans and guests. A limited number of tickets may be made available to the general public, so fans should regularly check www.ustanationalcampus.com/ncaa for more updates.
The team championships will once again be broadcast on the Tennis Channel and will feature the best tennis programs from across the country. This year, teams are especially loaded with talent as NCAA policies allowed all student athletes whose 2020 season was cut short to return for an extra year of eligibility.
On the men’s side, the University of Florida has spent a good portion of the season ranked No. 1 in the Tennis Channel/USTA College Tennis Top 25. In 2019, the Gators reached the national semifinals before falling to eventual-champion Texas. The hometown UCF Knights have also spent the entire season ranked in the Top 25 and have a serious chance to make it to the Round of 16 and beyond.
In the women’s field, Florida State is a strong Top 10 team and has national championship aspirations. The UCF women’s team has also been ranked highly all season and will look to join the men in making a strong postseason push.
The team championships will wrap up with the women’s national championship match at 5:30 p.m. on Saturday, May 22, immediately followed by the men’s national championship match. The individual tournament starts the following day and concludes on Friday, May 28, with the men’s and women’s singles and doubles national championships.
The 64-team brackets will be revealed on Monday, May 3, on NCAA.com, and the individual brackets will be announced a day later. Play begins the following week with all roads leading to Lake Nona.
Photos Courtesy of USTA