After months away from competitive tennis due to the COVID-19 pandemic, many of the area’s top current, incoming collegiate and junior players competed in the USTA Eastern Collegiate Series, a four-weekend long string of tournaments at the Cary Leeds Center for Tennis & Learning in the Bronx.
The first two of those tournaments were played in August, with the final two played in mid-September.
In the opening weekend tournament, St. John’s senior Jessica Livianu took home the title in the Women’s Singles division by way of a 6-3, 6-2 victory over Valencia Xu, who will be heading to Stanford for her college career.
"It was exciting. I was really happy to be back on court competing, but of course you’re a little rusty," said Livianu. "So it was about shaking off that rust so I could play better with every match."
In the Men’s Singles, Liam Krall, who will be a freshman at Southern Methodist University, came through the draw to claim the title.
“It was really fun to compete again. It’s something that was lacking this summer for sure. And I was really happy that I could get out and compete before I left for college,” said Krall. “It’s great that I was able to win the tournament and hopefully become a better player. I think this helped my confidence in playing college players and it is hopefully a stepping stone to the next level.”
The following weekend, Purdue-commit Gabriele Brancatelli defeated Evan Lee 6-3, 6-3 in the finals of the Men’s Singles division, while UCLA’s Elysia Bolton notched a 6-1, 6-1 victory over Ariana Pursoo to take home the Women’s Singles title.
"With the cancellation of the Fall collegiate competitions and USTA National events, we felt there was a need to create safe playing opportunities for our collegiate and top junior players that had not competed in months and we are happy we were able to do that," said Gustavo Loza, Manager of Youth Programs for USTA Eastern. "Special thanks to the Cary Leeds Tennis Center staff for hosting these events and Cesar Leon, the Tournament Director, for implementing all the return to play guidelines and making sure everyone felt safe. The feedback we received from college coaches, parents and players was extremely positive."
Below are the full tournament results from all four weekends:
Tournament 1 (August 14-17):
►Men’s Champion: Liam Krall (Southern Methodist University)
►Women’s Champion: Jessica Livianu (St. John’s University) (pictured left)
Tournament 2 (August 21-24):
►Men’s Champion: Gabriele Brancatelli (Purdue University) (pictured right)
►Women’s Champion: Elysia Bolton (UCLA) (pictured left)
Tournament 3 (September 11-13):
►Women’s Champion: Anna Shkudun (Syracuse) (pictured left)
*Only a women’s event was held
Tournament 4 (September 18-20):
Men’s Champion: Nicholas Steiglehner (Eastern Junior) (pictured right)
*Only a men’s event was held