Last week, 416 players arrived in Tulsa to participate in the ITA Men’s All-American Championship, but there was only one victor in the end. Top seed and University of Texas fifth-year senior Eliot Spizzirri (UTR Rating 14.18) became the third Longhorn in program history to win the singles title.
The Greenwich, Connecticut native battled past Murphy Cassone (UTR 14.05) of Arizona State in a final that pitted the players with the third and fourth-highest UTR Ratings among all student-athletes currently enrolled.
Winning his first major title in college, Spizzirri has quickly established a good rapport with new assistant coach Ryan Lipman, who accompanied him on court throughout the tournament.
"Eliot has been a pleasure to work with thus far,” Lipman said. “Honestly, he makes my job quite easy. He does everything the right way and with a great attitude. He’s professional, coachable, has great character, and competes [hard]. Winning All-Americans is a remarkable accomplishment and a culmination of everything I mentioned above. We are very much looking forward to finishing the fall off on a strong note and then gearing up for a fun, successful spring.”
Spizzirri almost pulled off a sweep in Tulsa as he and partner Cleeve Harper advanced to the doubles final before falling to Robert Cash and JJ Tracy of Ohio State. It was the second doubles crown for Cash as he won the same title two years ago with Matej Vocel.
The title for Spizzirri came just one month after he revealed he was returning to Austin to for his fifth and final year of eligibility, with the Longhorns one of the favorites to win the NCAA Championship in May.
Like women's All-American champion Mary Stoiana, Spizzirri has enjoyed success on the pro tour. Earlier this year, he reached the final round of qualifying at the US Open.
There was a balance of teams advancing deep into the singles draw, with 13 different programs represented in the round of 16. Michigan State, Texas, and Virginia were the lone schools with multiple players still competing at that stage. It was especially notable for Michigan State, who is in the midst of a program turnaround with second-year head coach Harry Jadun now at the helm of his alma mater.
“I think the headline of our tournament was Ozan’s (Baris) run, making the semifinals,” Jadun said. “But I was really impressed with Ronnie (Hohmann). Also a guy like Max Sheldon picking up a ranked win in the qualifying draw as well and Sebastian Collard competing hard in the qualifying draw, losing some tough matches but showing that he is there and his level is there was really impressive."
“In the program’s history, we had never won a main draw singles match and for us to walk away with six of them, I think four or five of those were ranked wins, was a lot of fun for the program," Jadun added. "I think that’s really a testament to the hard work the guys are putting in and just thankful for these guys who believe in the vision for this program and what we could do. Really excited about the energy that we have, being a team of firsts, and making some special things happen here at Michigan State. We’re starting to take this thing to the next level and we look forward to finishing the fall strong.”
The player who logged the most singles court time in Tulsa was likely Indiana University sophomore Sam Landau (UTR 12.70), who earned a total of eight victories as he was the only player with the distinction of advancing through both the pre-qualifying and qualifying draw to reach the main draw. Five of his eight wins came in three-set matches.
“Starting in pre-qualifiers, there’s no expectation of making the main draw whatsoever,” Landau said. “I’m thankful for my teammates and my coach Jeremy Wurtzman for helping me focus all my mental and physical efforts into each match at a time, instead of looking too far into the future and believing it wasn’t possible. I knew I could compete with almost everyone at the tournament, I just had to pair a great week of tennis with a little grit.”
Next up for the majority of players is the ITA Regional Championships held across the country before the fall season culminates with the Barnes Tennis Center hosting the ITA National Fall Championships in early November.