In addition to watching final qualifying and first-round action at the Western & Southern Open, fans and alumni can cheer on student-athletes from six regional universities for a fierce but friendly College Tennis Showcase.
Teams from Ohio State, Michigan, Kentucky, Notre Dame, Louisville and Xavier will compete at 3 p.m. on Sunday, Aug. 14 as an added highlight to the pro tournament’s qualifying competition. The format will feature men’s and women’s doubles along with mixed doubles, something not typically seen in collegiate competition.
The exhibition matches will take place at Porsche Court, a sunken court located just north of Center Court and adjacent to the busy Partner Plaza.
“In addition to watching world-class professional players, fans and alumni can come out and cheer for their schools in this bragging-rights competition,” said Western & Southern Open Tournament Director Eric Butorac. “We wanted to give this opportunity to the college players to expose them to the world’s best while showcasing their talent to local fans.”
The day will also include panel discussions in the new Grand Courtyard fan experience area, featuring current collegiate players and pro players who played in college. Additionally, coaches from each of the participating schools will provide information about their programs for current high school students to explore and discuss while on-site. Fans of all ages are encouraged to attend.
There will be plenty of pride on the line. Ohio State, Kentucky and Michigan ended the year ranked among the top 10 men’s programs in the nation, with Kentucky defeating Ohio State to reach the NCAA Championships final. The Ohio State and Michigan women ranked in the nation’s top 20 teams. Ohio State’s men’s and women’s teams are the reigning Big Ten regular-season champions, while Michigan’s men and women won the season-ending Big Ten tournaments. Kentucky’s women ranked inside the nation’s top 75.
Louisville’s men ended the year ranked No. 26 and compiled a school-best 9-3 record in the tough ACC and was selected for the NCAA Championships. Notre Dame’s men also received an NCAA Championships berth and the women’s team qualified a doubles team for the national championship. Notre Dame’s men and women’s teams ended the year ranked inside the nation’s top 50 teams. Xavier’s women won its third Big East Championship and trip to the NCAA Championships, while the men reached the Big East tournament semifinals and sent a player to the NCAA singles championship.
While the College Tennis Showcase is new, college players have long been a feature in the draws of the Western & Southern Open. Since the tournament began in 1899, 69 different men’s collegiate champions have played in the tournament, including locals Reuben Holden (1910, Yale), Barry MacKay (1957, Michigan) and 1951 Western & Southern Open champion Tony Trabert, who also won the 1951 college title playing for Cincinnati. On the women’s side, 27 different college champions since competition began in 1959 have played the Cincinnati tournament including local player Nicole Gibbs (2012-13 NCAA champion for Stanford) and the two most recent collegiate winners - 2021 champ Emma Navarro (Virginia) and Mason’s own Peyton Stearns, the 2022 NCAA champion for Texas.
Other notable Western & Southern Open players who honed their games in the college ranks include NCAA singles champions Steve Johnson (2011-12, USC), Mackenzie McDonald (2016, UCLA) and Danielle Collins (2016, Virginia). John Isner led Georgia to the 2007 team title, and recent Wimbledon semifinalist Cameron Norrie (TCU) was the No. 1 ranked collegiate player in 2017.