What is the ATP’s Collegiate Accelerator Programme?

Cameron Norrie in action

The ATP and Intercollegiate Tennis Association (ITA) have launched a ground-breaking partnership, the Collegiate Accelerator Programme to further paves the road from the United States’ vibrant college tennis scene to the big time.

A large part of the ATP’s Accelerator Programme, will be providing the best collegiate players with first time access to playing opportunities on the ATP Challenger Tour.

Up to eight Accelerator Spots at Challenger 50 and 75 tournaments will be awarded to players who are ranked inside the ITA’s season-ending Top 20 or who make it to the NCAA Division I tournament’s quarterfinals. These opportunities will be split between the main draw (Top 10) and qualifying (11-20).

“The Accelerator Programme is designed to give successful college players the opportunity to have a faster pathway onto the ATP Challenger Tour,” ATP Chief Tour Officer Ross Hutchins said of the initiative.

“It’s part of our strategy to promote the rise of young talent in the pro game. With merit-based eligibility based on college achievement, the opportunity is a reward for players who have earned it. It provides them a foothold to participate on the Challenger Tour in the immediate months after finishing the college year.

“But this is not a free pass to a full schedule. It’s to provide the best college talent with opportunities in addition to the traditional pathway of moving up the Pepperstone ATP Rankings. A player’s performance on this pathway will ultimately determine his future in the pro game.”

Among the international players to benefit from time in the American collegiate system is British No 1 Cameron Norrie who feels that it is a great option for players who are talented but lack the resources to have a crack at the pro tours.

“The main thing is for players and juniors to be aware that it is a pathway,” Norrie said.

“When I was 17 I wasn’t so aware that there were a lot of people going to college and doing this route. I thought you had to play pro. For me it was a great option and luckily I knew a couple of people that were going to college and I heard about it.

“I think it’s great. It can take a lot of pressure off because you’re not going to play right away. You get some time to relax and live a more normal life. You can go out with your friends, you can practise with your friends. You’re competing, you’re playing a lot of matches. I really think it was a great option.”

Men’s singles players who finish the college season in the Top 20 of the ITA’s singles rankings or who advance to the quarterfinals of the singles tournament will now have the opportunity to accelerate their professional development with guaranteed wild cards on the ATP Challenger Tour thanks to the new Accelerator Programme.

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