Collegiate tennis players will have new tournaments to test their skills in 2018 at the Oracle Challenger Series, debuting next year. Representing a partnership between Oracle, ATP, and WTA, the Oracle Challenger Series is the latest of tournaments sponsored by Oracle to encourage the growth of American youth tennis. Oracle CEO Mark Hurd said, “Oracle is committed to American tennis and these events are designed to provide opportunities for players to make meaningful gains in both prize money and ranking points on their home soil.”
The Oracle Challenger series builds on the company’s commitment to the sport. In 2015, Oracle collaborated with the Intercollegiate Tennis Association to produce the first-ever Oracle/ITA Masters, Oracle’s annual tournament in Malibu, California. Initially offering both singles and doubles titles for men and women, the tournament has since changed to a mixed doubles format.
The Oracle/ITA Masters in 2015 featured three set tiebreakers and fast-paced doubles matches. Virginia’s Danielle Collins took home the women’s singles title after an injury forced the withdrawal of opponent Hayley Carter. After graduating in 2016, Collins has competed in professional tennis tournaments, recently beating No. 2 seed Sachia Vickery to win the Sooner Open, earning her fourth USTA Pro Circuit title. Cameron Norrie won the men’s singles title in a tiebreaker after a grueling three set match in the Malibu heat. Both women’s doubles champions Giuliana Olmos and Gabby Smith as well as men’s doubles champions Luca Corinteli and Ryan Shane won straight sets to claim their titles.
In 2016, the Oracle/ITA Masters saw the adoption of a mixed doubles format in Malibu. Hayley Carter, runner-up in the 2015 women’s singles, partnered with Georgia Tech’s Chris Eubanks to take the mixed doubles title. Both women’s and men’s singles finals came down to three set matches, with Kentucky’s Ryotaro Matsumura and UCLA’s Ena Shibahara taking home the titles. After losing his initial set, Matsumura rallied to come back and win the championship. Shibahara took an early lead but lost the second set after opponent Luisa Stefani won five straight games; she fought off multiple match points to clinch the championship.
In its third year, the 2017 Oracle/ITA Masters brought even bigger action to Malibu. The women’s singles championship match proved to be a marathon with returning champion Ena Shibahara taking on UNC’s All Sanford in a 2.5 hour match; Sanford claimed the title after winning the third set 6-3. Men’s singles champion Brandon Holt won his title in straight sets, showcasing a powerful serve and multiple aces in his match against Columbia’s Victor Pham. The mixed doubles finals saw 2016 champion Shibahara team up with 2017 champion Holt to take the title. The two have played together since junior tournaments and were able to turn that on-court chemistry into a win at Malibu in 2017.
Excited for more Oracle tennis? Keep an eye out for the new Oracle Challenger Series, beginning on January 20, 2018 at the Newport Beach Tennis Club.