USTA Boys Tournament History
Once again, as has been the case each summer for the past 70 years, the excitement of the USTA Boys 18s & 16s National Championships overtakes Kalamazoo, Michigan. This tournament is the single most important event of the tennis year for the 400 outstanding juniors who arrive from all parts of the United States. Ten days of intense, tough, inspired tennis earn for each of the ultimate winners in singles and doubles the cherished title of United States National Champion. And as a testament to the incredible tennis played here, the 18s Champions in Singles and Doubles receive an automatic bid to the main draw of the U.S. Open Tournament.
During the past 70 years, most of the great names in mens' tennis have headed the draws in Kalamazoo - names such as Rod Laver, Stan Smith, Arthur Ashe, Jimmy Connors, John McEnroe, Aaron Krickstein, Michael Chang, Andre Agassi, Jim Courier, Pete Sampras, James Blake, Andy Roddick, Bob and Mike Bryan, Sam Querry and many more. This year's tournament will highlight a new generation of future stars.
An added highlight of Tournament Week in Kalamazoo is the Rx Optical / Greenleaf Trust and Greenleaf Hospitality exhibition - players to be determined. This event is scheduled for the evening of Friday, August 2. Click on the Past Winners tab for a list of past exhibition players.
The USTA Boys 18s & 16s National Championships represents tennis at its finest, whether in the first round, finals, or the exhibition. Come share the excitement, cheer for your favorite players... and get a glimpse of future superstars in action.
An ideal setting for the USTA Boys 18s & 16s National Championships, Kalamazoo College offers beautiful architecture, landscaping and inviting charm. Home to the National Championships since 1943, the College's Stowe Tennis Stadium features eleven well-maintained hard-courts, as well as excellent seating for over 3,000 spectators. In addition, our affiliation with Western Michigan University affords us the use of their 20-court Raymond Sorensen complex. The Markin Racquet Center on the campus of Kalamazoo College, provides four indoor courts that can be used during inclement weather.
• 1946 - To prevent losing the tournament to another community, Kalamazoo constructs a new stadium, at a cost of $5,000, and names it for Dr. Stowe. Tournament moved to its present site; the surface of the nine courts was red clay. Admission was charged for the first time - $1.20 for semis and finals. Player entries grow to 112.
• 1953 - The first broadcast of the tournament finals by WKZO-AM radio.
• 1957 - Rolla Anderson succeeds Dr. Stowe, who was fatally injured in an auto/pedestrian accident on the campus of Kalamazoo College, as Tournament Director.
• 1958 - Tennis House, featuring two Grasstex courts and the first indoor tennis facility in Michigan, was erected.
• 1961 - Rain falls on five of the seven days of the tournament. The National Doubles are played indoors in the new Field House for the first time. Singles Semifinals and Finals are both played on the same day, Sunday, because of the frequent rain delays.
• 1962 - The USTA increases maximum age for younger age division from 15-and under to 16-and under. The USTA recognizes Kalamazoo College for its role as tournament host for two decades.
• 1963 - This marks the last Nationals in Kalamazoo to be played on the nine red clay courts of Stowe Stadium.
• 1964 - Stowe Stadium rededicated after Teniko red clay surface is replaced by green-and-white all-weather Laykold courts. Lights are added with a total of 438 1500-watt bulbs on eight steel poles; lights were turned on during the Exhibition for the first time ever. No admission is charged for the inaugural night session at Stowe Stadium. Entries grow to 243. To spark public interest, season ticket prices are reduced from $5.50 to $3.
• 1970 - Tournament length expanded from seven to nine days, season tickets hiked from $5 to $10 for adults. Patron seats under the canopy are $25 for the length of the tournament.
• 1977 - Ramesh Krishnan is the first foreign entry to win 16 and under division singles title.
• 1978 - Foreign entries are no longer eligible as the tournament changes from "Open" to "USTA National" classification. The Wild Card selections are instituted by the USTA.
• 1979 - Stowe Stadium undergoes it's second major renovation at a cost of $165,000 with the addition of courts 10 and 11.
• 1980 - ESPN televises the tournament for the first time.
• 1981 - The Tennis House is converted into the gymnasium.
• 1987 - The Tournament has been played at Kalamazoo College for 45 consecutive years and is honored by USTA President Gordon Jorgensen.
• 1988 - Thomas S. Markin Racquet Center opened, with four indoor tennis courts, three racquetball courts and one squash court. A record gallery, estimated in excess of 6,000, packs Stowe Stadium to see the Exhibition featuring Andre Agassi (ranked #4 in the world) vs. Mats Wilander (ranked #3).
• 1989 - David Markin makes history: in his first term as President of the USTA, he serves as the Official Referee of the Nationals for the 15th year. It is the first time in the history of the USTA Nationals that a USTA President has doubled as a Tournament Referee.
• 1992 - The community celebrates 50 years of the Nationals in Kalamazoo. Events include the return of former champions for a Friday night Exhibition of Doubles. A statue of a young tennis player hitting an overhead, created by noted Kalamazoo sculptor Kirk Newman, includes plaques attached at the base honoring Dr. Stowe and Rolla Anderson. An anniversary book is written by Bob Wagner: The Nationals...and How They Grew in Kalamazoo. ESPN and USA cable television networks filmed tournament features for future use.
• 1993 - Following the 1993 Tournament and after 37 years as Tournament Director, Rolla Anderson retires and is succeeded by Timon Corwin. Corwin, a NCAA Division III Singles Champion while a student at Kalamazoo College who also graduated from Marquette University Law School also succeeds his mentor George Acker as the Men’s Tennis Coach at K-College.
• 1997 - A new draw format was initiated - going from 128 to 192 in each division, with seeding of 32 entries. The tournament increased from six days (Mon-Sat) to 10-days (Fri-Sun); 950 matches, 499 at WMU Sorensen Courts and 451 at K-College Stowe Stadium.
• 2000 - The Tournament name changes to USTA Boys’ 18 & 16 Super National Hard Court Championships.
• 2003 - USTA President Alan Schwartz states, "This Tournament is the class of junior tournaments in the world." Schwartz does not foresee the Nationals leaving Kalamazoo under his or any succeeding presidency.
• 2004 - The USTA allows Pros in the tournament for the first time, providing they meet the age requirements. The Tournament is once again designated the USTA Boys’ 18 & 16 National Championships, a change back to pre-2000, when it was christened USTA Boys’ 18 & 16 Super National Hard Courts.
• 2005 - Chair umpires are assigned to all matches for the first time in tournament history. Jim Courier and company film a movie, working title: “The Nats at the Zoo” during the tournament.
• 2008 - New Tournament Director, Mark Riley and new Official Referee Darrell Davies take over. Professional player & Davis Cup Coach Patrick McEnroe visits the Tournament and speaks at the Volunteer Luncheon.
• 2009 - The Tower at Stowe Stadium receives a complete renovation. Originally constructed in 1946, The Tower has had only minor updates over the years. Additionally all eleven courts were renovated and resurfaced and the sound system was completely upgraded. Assistant Director Dr. Brian Garman, inventor of The Garman System, a widely-used computer system for scheduling matches, was inducted into the Intercollegiate Tennis Association Men's Collegiate Tennis Hall of Fame housed in the Henry Field Stadium - University of Georgia.
• 2010 - Stowe Stadium outfitted with new mesh canopies over the seating area as well as a new tower public address system.
Western Michigan University resurfaces the top eight courts at the Sorensen Tennis Complex.
There have been many dramatic moments and matches in the USTA Nationals, not all of them in the finals. Here are a few:
In 1956, Rod Laver, considered by many to be the finest player ever to perform in the tournament here, fought off 12 match points in a three-set, first round match with Oklahoman Don Brewington in 18-and-under singles before advancing to the finals to defeat Chris Crawford, Piedmont, Calif., in straight sets.
The most dramatic match in the memories of long-time viewers of the Nationals was the 1968 18-and-under semifinal singles confrontation between Bob McKinley and the popular Dick Stockton. McKinley won the two-hour nail-biter, 10-8, 12-10, in an era before the insertion of the tie-breaker in the tennis rules. The two players received a prolonged standing ovation from the gallery.
Jimmy Connors never won the 18-and-under singles title in the USTA Nationals. Although ranked as the No. 1 seed in the 1970 tournament he was upset in an exhilarating three-set semifinal (6-3, 4-6, 7-5) by eventual champion Brian Gottfried.
Tony Trabert, noted for his incisive commentary on network tennis telecasts, passed this way as a junior. During his 1948 singles semifinal against Gil Bogley he removed his shoes for better traction during the first set. Trabert, however, developed blisters by the time the third set rolled around and he was stunned by an underdog Bogley who went on to win back-to-back titles in Kalamazoo.
Maryland's Paul Goldstein in 1994 became the first player since Vincent Richards to win three consecutive singles titles in the USTA Nationals. Goldstein was the 16-and-under champion in 1992, and then added the 18-and-under titles in the next two summers. Richards dominated the early Nationals with five championships in a row - the 15-and-under (the age group wasn't changed to 16-and-under until 1962) in 1917-18 and the 18-and-under in 1919-20-21.
Aaron Krickstein of Grosse Pointe, Mi., attracted the largest gallery
for a finals match (4,506 spectators) in 1983 when he defeated Patrick
McEnroe, current Davis Cup Captain and younger brother of seven-time
Grand Slam winner John McEnroe, 7-6, 6-1, 4-6, 7-6, for the
18-and-under singles championship.
The only time Andre Agassi competed in Kalamazoo, he won a title - in doubles. That was in the USTA Boys' 16 National Championships in 1985. With his two shades of hair - blond in the front and brunette in the back - he was already a tennis rebel!
After teaming with John Falbo, the unseeded duo stunned top seeds Jeff Tarango and David Wheaton, 6-4, 3-6, 6-4, to win the doubles crown before a sparse crowd. The next year, players at the tournament were laughing because Agassi was missing. He had turned pro. But they weren't laughing long - and when Agassi, ranked fourth in the world, returned to Kalamazoo to play in the opening night exhibition in 1988, an estimated crowd of 6,000, still a record, jammed into Stowe Stadium to watch him and No. 3-ranked Mats Wilander perform.
That's just one of the highlights of the Boys' 18 & 16 tournament, which marks its 67th year in Kalamazoo in August, 2009. The Agassi era has been unmatched so far, with players such as Pete Sampras, Jim Courier and Michael Chang moving on to stellar pro careers. Some of the lesser-known players also made for some memorable moments at the Nats in the 'Zoo. Last year, eventual winner Austin Krajicek and Ryan Thacher became the first two lefties ever to compete in the 18s final. It was the third year in a row that Thacher left Kalamazoo with the silver, not gold, ball.
In 2006, players competed for the first time on the new blue Deco Turf II, the same surface used at the U.S. Open.
Jim Courier returned to Kalamazoo in 2005 to film his documentary, "Unstrung: The Movie," which followed seven junior players from the Orange Bowl, in December 2004, through the 2005 U.S. Open, in September. Much of the film centered on the path to Kalamazoo and footage from the 2005 tournament was included in the final product.
The 2004 tournament marked the first time pros were permitted to compete, and four of them took advantage of it: eventual 18s winner Scoville Jenkins, Brendan Evans, Phil Simmonds and Donald Young, who turned pro at age 14, celebrated his 15th birthday July 23 and, as the seventh seed in 18s, lost in the fourth round. Scott Oudsema, the first Kalamazoo-area player ever to be seeded among the top 10 in 18s singles, reached the finals as the fourth seed that year, losing to No. 3 Jenkins, 7-5, 6-1, 6-3. In the 2004 doubles final, Oudsema and Evans, the top seeds, lost to No. 2 Vahid Mirzadeh and Simmonds. Nick Rinks is still the only Kalamazoo-area player to win a title at the tournament. He and Mirzadeh took the 16s doubles crown in 2002.
But when it comes to doubles, the most colorful team was Bob and Mike Bryan. In 1996, they became the first doubles duo to win back-to-back championships in any class since 1945-46.
- Dr. Allen B. Stowe 1943 - 1957
- Dr. Allen B. Stowe 1943 - 1957