Sept. 10, 2016
FLUSHING, New York – Virginia tennis senior Thai-Son Kwiatkowski (Charlotte, N.C.) won the men’s singles title of the American Collegiate Invitational tournament, being held during the 2016 U.S. Open at the Billie Jean King National Tennis Center in Flushing, New York.
Kwiatkowski defeated former Georgia All-American Austin Smith, 6-2, 6-2, in Saturday’s final to become the first-ever Cavalier to win the men’s American Collegiate title. Former Virginia women’s tennis standout and two-time NCAA singles champion Danielle Collins won this year’s women’s American Collegiate Invitational title, giving Virginia the school sweep of the titles.
“I felt like I was serving well today,” Kwiatkowski said. “I was focusing on having a high first-serve percentage, which was a strength for me today. It was very hot out there, so I wanted to get the first strike in there because if you are out there running around a lot, it was going to be super-tough. It is really cool to have Virginia win both the men’s and the women’s titles. The women’s program at UVA is one of the best in the country. When you have two of the eight people in the field, with Julia Elbaba losing a tough one in the semis yesterday, it could have been an all-UVA final, just as it could have been an all-UVA final on the men’s side. It shows what a powerhouse Virginia tennis is, which is a credit to [Virgina women’s tennis] Coach Guilbeau and [Virginia men’s tennis] Coach Boland.”
The American Collegiate Invitational, open only to American college players, began in 2014 as a way to spotlight college tennis during the US Open. Eight men and eight women play single-elimination singles tournaments Thursday to Saturday during the second week of the US Open, with the winners receiving a wild card into the 2017 US Open, main draw or qualifying, depending on their ranking next summer. The fields are comprised of the top two players in the ATP/WTA rankings (as of July 18) and the top five players in the year-end Intercollegiate Tennis Association singles rankings (excluding those selected by pro ranking), including at least two graduating seniors or players who have turned pro/exhausted their collegiate eligibility.
Kwiatkowski will receive a main draw wild-card entry into the 2017 US Open if he is ranked No. 120 or better by the US Open entry deadline next summer. Otherwise he will receive a wild-card entry into the US Open Qualifying Tournament. He will also get wild cards into two USTA Pro Circuit events. Kwiatkowski faced Arkansas senior Michael Redlicki in the first round, advancing with a 6-4, 3-0 (ret.) victory. In the semifinals, Kwiatkowski logged a 6-2, 6-0 victory over Stanford junior Tom Fawcett.
Former Cavalier Ryan Shane also competed in the tournament. The 2015 NCAA singles champion logged a 6-4, 6-2 victory over former Illinois All-American Jared Hiltzik in the opener but fell 7-6 (1), 6-4 to Smith in the semifinals.
This is the second-straight year that Shane and Kwiatkowski were both invited to compete in the tournament with both players falling in the semifinals last year. Kwiatkowski and Shane also both competed in the 2016 U.S. Open qualifying tournament during the last week of August.
“I think having the experience of having played here last year as well as having been here a couple of weeks ago during U.S. Open qualifying helped me to find a routine, which I wasn’t able to find in my past experiences,” Kwiatkowski said. “There is a lot going on, which makes it hard to really focus. I think in the last three days, I was able to really focus on just playing tennis.”
Kwiatkowski, the 2016 NCAA Team Championship Most Valuable Player, earned All-America honors in singles in both 2015 and 2016 and has been ranked as high as No. 2 in the ITA singles rankings. Last year, Kwiatkowski became the first player since 2009 and fourth in the history of the ITA Men’s All-American to win the singles and doubles championships in the same year.