MALIBU, CALIF. -- Furman senior Ansley Speaks will begin play at the Oracle ITA Masters Championships in Malibu, Calif., on Thursday.
Following the success of last year's inaugural Oracle ITA Masters, the event has returned in 2016 with an expanded field in men's and women's singles, allowing for players from all across Division I to participate.
Invitations were sent out to one man and one woman from each Division I Conference to participate, with criteria similar to the NCAA Tournament being used. The additional participants caused the draw size to increase from 16 to 32. A 32-team mixed-doubles event will also take place at the 2016 Oracle ITA Masters, with players from the same conference partnered up wherever possible.
Seeding for the tournament is based on a players' rankings, and Speaks, who is rated 22nd in the tournament, will square off against Katarina Adamovic of Oklahoma State, who is ranked 11th among the tournament's participants. First serve is set for 10:45 a.m. PT on Thursday, with the winner advancing to face the victor of the match between Mississippi State's Jasmine Lee, ranked 6th, and Lidia Yanes Garcia of Austin Peay, who is rated 27th.
Speaks will team up with David Biosca of East Tennessee State in mixed doubles. The duo will take on Kana Daniel of Penn and Shawn Hadavi from Columbia at 8 a.m. on Thursday, with the winners moving on to the second round Thursday at 4 p.m.
"Earning an invitation to this tournament is a big step for our program," said Paladin head coach Adam Herendeen. "We want our players to compete at the highest levels, and this tournament is one of the biggest in the nation. Ansley earned the invitation to compete in this tournament based on her performance last season, and she has raised her game another level this fall. We are excited to get out there."
Julie Paré, Furman Sports Information