June 10, 2004
Alicia Salas (Englewood, Colo./Cherry Creek H.S.), who last month completed an outstanding four-year career on the University of Notre Dame women’s tennis team, will head to China this weekend with the 2004 American Express Collegiate All-Star Tennis Team for a weeklong series of clinics, matches, and cultural exchanges hosted by the Chinese Tennis Association. Salas is one of 10 players (five women and five men) and three coaches selected by the Intercollegiate Tennis Association (ITA) to represent the United States.
The American Express Collegiate All-Star Team will make stops in Hong Kong, Tianjin and Beijing. It will play in two exhibition matches, enjoy sightseeing excursions, and participate in several clinics for junior/high school level players and coaches conducted by the team’s coaches, Doug MacCurdy of the College of Santa Fe, Louise Gengler of Princeton, and Stan Smith, the former U.S. Open, Wimbledon and NCAA champ who is the team’s honorary coach.
Salas, who earned her second consecutive berth to the NCAA singles tournament this season (but was forced to withdraw due to a foot injury) and is just the fourth Irish player ever to qualify for each leg of the collegiate grand slam in a season, concluded her final campaign with a 24-17 record, including 15 wins over ranked opponents, six of them vs. top-30 players. She ended up second in the Midwest Region and 22nd in the national singles rankings after peaking at a career-high 10th earlier this spring. In doubles, she was 24-7, including 18-5 in dual matches at No. 2. Salas finished her career with a 95-42 singles record and an 83-38 mark in doubles.
The trip is being hosted by the Chinese Tennis Association, and the U.S. squad will be competing against teams selected by the CTA, consisting of the best young players in China, ages 17-23. The matches, as well as other tour activities will be carried on the “Beijing TV” cable channel.
“This sponsorship reinforces American Express’ longtime commitment to China and represents our tradition of contributing to and supporting cultural and leisure events in China and around the world,” said Dave Keung, American Express’ Vice President and Head of Global Establishment Services for China. “We are delighted to play our part in promoting tennis activity and fostering cultural exchange in one of the most culture-rich, fast-growing and important countries in the world.”
“We are very appreciative to American Express and the Chinese Tennis Association for making this trip possible,” said ITA Executive Director David A. Benjamin, who also will travel with the group to China. “This is a wonderful opportunity for our ITA All-Stars to showcase American college tennis in one of the most exciting and important parts of the world.”
Last summer an ITA All-Star Team, headed by Irish men’s tennis coach Bob Bayliss, helped Waseda University celebrate its 100th anniversary of tennis by competing in two exhibition matches in Tokyo, Japan. The U.S. squad went 2-0 on that trip, the first by an American collegiate tennis team to Asia in over 20 years.
Other members of the All-Star team are (women) Zsofia Golopencza of Armstrong Atlantic State (Ga.), Amanda Johnson of Duke, Jennifer Magley of Florida, Jennifer McGaffigan of Illinois, (men) Lester Cook of Texas A&M, Phillip King of Duke, Rob Steckley of Lander (S.C.), Brian Wilson of Illinois, and Jeremy Wurtzman of Ohio State. All eight of the Division I players on the team were ranked in the ITA’s top 20 in singles in 2003-04, while Steckley and Golopencza have been ranked No. 1 at the Division II level. Salas went 2-0 against her teammates this past season, beating Johnson, ranked fifth at the time, and McGaffigan, then ranked 14th, in dual-match action at No. 1.
Sunday, June 13: U.S. Players arrive in China
Monday, June 14th: Press Conference for team at Hotel King Wing
Wednesday, June 16: Exhibition team match at Tianjin Tennis Center
Thursday, June 17: Sightseeing at Tiananmen Square and Forbidden City
Friday, June 18: Exhibition Team Match at Xiannongtan Tennis Club
Saturday, June 19: Scrimmage with Chinese Tennis Association team at Xiannongtan Tennis Club
Sunday, June 20: Sightseeing at The Great Wall and Ming Tombs
Monday, June 21: Depart for U.S.