PRO SERIES IS BACK FOR SUMMER 2023!PRO TENNIS | USTA SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA
MARCH 29, 2023 | STEVE PRATT
PRO SERIES IS BACK FOR SUMMER 2023!USTA SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA
MARCH 29, 2023
Malibu Pro Series Pre-Qualifying Champion Anne Lutkemeyer
(Photo – Lexie Wanninger/USTA SoCal)
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It’s the opening act – the show before the big show. Pre-qualifying tournaments in pro tennis language means playing in front of family, some friends and a few club members, with the eye on the big prize – possibly winning the tournament and earning a main draw wild card into an upcoming SoCal Pro Series event.
Organizers of the SoCal Pro Series – part of the USTA Pro Circuit and ITF World Tour level $15,000 men’s and women’s tournaments – have planned seven pre-qualifying tournaments to take place in Southern California starting April 14-16 at the Rancho Santa Fe Country Club. The other pre-qualifying tournaments will be held at:
- Jack Kramer Club in Rolling Hills Estates, May 5-7
- University of San Diego, May 12-14
- Racquet Club of Irvine, May 19-21
- Barnes Tennis Center, May 26-28
- Lakewood Tennis Club (Week #1), June 2-5
- Lakewood Tennis Club (Week #2), June 30-July 3
A few years ago, the USTA borrowed an idea from the PGA Tour and had each of its 17 sections host a series of pre-qualifying events available to anyone who wanted the chance to qualify for the US Open. The entry lists were filled with juniors, collegians, and over-the-hill former players still seeking one last shot at glory. Even the pop icon RedFoo entered for several years to see if he had what it took to live out a lifelong dream and qualify for a Grand Slam.
Like buying a lottery ticket and hoping to cash in millions, you can’t win if you don’t play.
Last fall, high school senior Chase Thompson of Mission Viejo and current UCLA freshman Anne Lutkemeyer from Irvine won the pre-qualifying events for the Pepperdine-hosted SoCal Pro Series the first week of January. The former Southern California Sectional mixed doubles partners both came back after losing the first set 7-5 to win the pre-qualifying singles titles at Lakewood Tennis Center.
A senior at Saddlebrook Virtual Academy headed to the University of Notre Dame on a full-ride scholarship, Thompson fell to Pepperdine’s Eero Vasa in two close sets in his first ITF pro main draw in Malibu. He used that experience just two weeks ago to win two rounds of qualifying at the ITF Bakersfield $25,000 tournament and then proceeded to win his first ATP World Tour point beating Argentina’s Federico Agustin Gomez in the first round of the main draw.
The 6-foot-6 lefty Thompson said he fell in love with South Bend the moment he landed, turning down offers from the likes of UCLA, Michigan and Duke. “It was just the right fit, and I knew it once I got out there,” he said. “I was always a big UCLA guy, wore the hat and everything. Everyone was really shocked I didn’t end up there.”
Westwood was the right fit for Lutkemeyer, who said she loves everything about being a Bruin. “UCLA was always my first choice,” said Lutkemeyer, who is living near campus in the dorms.
Lutkemeyer, who fell to Jaeda Daniel in her first-round match at Pepperdine, played in four SoCal Pro Series summer events, including the main draw in Lakewood after receiving a wild card. Lutkemeyer won’t have far to travel this summer if she plans to play the SoCal Pro Series from May 29 to July 10 at the sites listed above.
Southern California players can register to play in the first pre-qualifying event at Rancho Santa Fe Country Club by clicking HERE. Deadline is Thursday, April 6.
To learn more about the SoCal Pro Series, go to: https://www.ustasocal.com/proseries.
Follow the SoCal Pro Series on social media @SoCalProSeries! Like the Facebook page and follow along on Instagram.