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Press Release


USTA Pro Circuit Returns to Knoxville

KNOXVILLE, October 19, 2016 – The Knoxville Challenger, a USTA Pro Circuit event, returns to Knoxville Nov. 8-13 at the University of Tennessee Goodfriend Indoor Tennis Center.

The Knoxville Challenger, presented by Pilot Flying J, is the largest professional men’s tennis tournament in our region. The Challenger series is designed to provide opportunities to aspiring, young professional tennis players to advance to the top levels of the game.

The Official Player Acceptance List was released this week. Two players on the list are currently ranked in the top 70 in the world while 12 others have held top-100 rankings in the past. The 2015 Knoxville Challenger Champion, Daniel Evans, returns to defend his title after holding a match point against eventual US Open winner, #3 Stan Wawrinka in the third round of the 2016 US Open.

Other notable entries, include:

Frances Tiafoe (USA): The 2015 Knoxville Challenger runner-up was the youngest player ranked in the top 100 in the world earlier this month. He has reached the finals of four Challenger events this year, and he stretched John Isner to a fifth set tiebreaker at the 2016 US Open. The son of immigrants from Sierra Leone, he is the 2015 National Junior Champion and is widely considered to be one of the next great U.S. tennis stars.

Tim Smyczek (USA): The 2013 Knoxville Challenger champion stretched Rafa Nadal to five sets before falling in the second round of the 2015 Australian Open.

Jared Donaldson (USA): The 20-year old reached the 3rd round of the 2016 US Open and has several recent wins against top 50 players.

Sam Groth (AUS): The 2014 Knoxville Challenger runner-up still holds the record for the world’s fastest serve (163mph).

Michael Mmoh (USA): The reigning U.S. National Junior Champion has climbed in the rankings this year after reaching the semis and finals of Challenger events in California.

Former University of Tennessee All-American, Tennys Sandgren (USA/Gallatin, TN) is the first alternate and will likely be accepted into the main draw as at least one player invariably drops out.

The top-22 players on the player acceptance list get direct entry into the main draw. Four additional wild cards will be selected, two by the tournament director and two rising young Americans selected by the USTA. The four semifinalists from the qualifying tournament will also earn spots in the main draw.

By participating in events like the Knoxville Challenger, players from the USTA Pro Circuit rise to a level of prominence on the major tour. These professionals compete for a total purse of $50,000 in prize money and for valuable ATP ranking points. Many of the top-ranked American players, as well as many international stars, have competed in the Knoxville Challenger as they climbed the world rankings. More than 30 professionals playing in the 2015 US Open previously competed in the Knoxville Challenger.

For the tournament schedule and ticket information, visit

The Knoxville Challenger benefits the Helen Ross McNabb Center, a regional not-for-profit provider of behavioral health care in East Tennessee, while also inspiring and entertaining new and seasoned lovers of the sport. The event is held every year in memory of Harry W. Stowers. His life, work, commitment and passion for the Helen Ross McNabb Center were of significant benefit to our entire community.

USTA Pro Circuit
With approximately 90 tournaments hosted annually throughout the country and prize money ranging from $10,000 to $100,000, the USTA Pro Circuit is the pathway to the US Open and tour-level competition for aspiring tennis players and a frequent battleground for established professionals. The USTA launched its Pro Circuit 37 years ago to provide players with the opportunity to gain professional ranking points, and it has since grown to become the largest developmental tennis circuit in the world, offering nearly $3 million in prize money. Last year, more than 1,000 men and women from more than 70 countries competed in cities nationwide. John Isner, Maria Sharapova, Sam Querrey, Sloane Stephens, Kei Nishikori, Victoria Azarenka and Andy Murray are among today’s top stars who began their careers on the USTA Pro Circuit.


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