GODFREY – Some of the world’s top-ranked men’s tennis players will begin qualifying play tomorrow in the 17th Annual Lewis and Clark Community College Men’s Pro Tennis Classic, a United States Tennis Association (USTA) Men’s Futures Pro Circuit Tennis Tournament.
Play begins at 8 a.m. at the Andy Simpson Tennis Complex at the college and the Alton High School tennis courts.
Lewis and Clark’s Quinton Argent, of Australia, and former L&C tennis player and alum Neil Berkel, of Troy, a junior on the McKendree tennis team, are playing in the qualifying rounds.
Set to return is last year’s semifinalist Noah Rubin, who won this year’s Junior Wimbledon title in London. The Long Island-native recently announced via Twitter that he will play for Wake Forest University in the fall.
Several players from the University of Illinois will participate including sophomore Julian Childers who won the Bud Simpson Open a few weeks ago which earned him a spot in the main draw.
“We look forward to playing in this tournament each year,” said Head Coach Brad Dancer.
“It is a great opportunity for our players to participate in professional-level tennis, and we always have a lot of support and fans who come out to watch which means a lot to us.”
The Fighting Illini were 24-9 this past season, finished second in the conference (10-2) and the Big Ten Tournament, and were ranked as high as sixth in the nation.
Also set to return this year is 19-year-old Ronnie Schneider, a freshman at the University of North Carolina. Last year, Schneider worked his way through every qualifying round before losing to the tourney’s top-seeded player, Darian King, of Barbados.
New to the tournament this year is Yuonfeng Li, 20, of China, who has been playing in Thailand and China most of the year. He practiced Thursday with returning player John Templeman, 20 of Midland, Michigan, and a sophomore at Bryant University.
“This is a great tennis complex and the courts are very nice,” Templeman said. “It is good to be back this year, and I hope to move into the main and go as far as I can.”
Clemson teammates Austin Ansari and Hunter Harrington are new to the Futures and the Godfrey tournament. Harrington reached the semifinals of the singles draw at the Futures tourney in Pittsburgh, two weeks ago.
The tournament is free and open to the public. Play continues daily, ending with the championship on Sunday, July 27.
The college also is hosting a free tennis clinic for children on Saturday, July 19 at 9 a.m. in the George C. Terry River Bend Arena. Children of all ages will have a chance to learn tennis from some of the tournament’s professionals. The event is free and open to the public.
For more information about the tournament or to get directions to campus, call (618) 468-6252 or visit www.lc.edu/usta