NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Vanderbilt fifth-year senior George Harwell is set to make his last appearance as a Commodore in the NCAA Singles Championship at 5 p.m. Monday at the Khan Outdoor Tennis Complex in Champaign, Illinois. Hosted by the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, the NCAA Individual Championships will be held from May 23-28, following the conclusion of the team tournament.
Featuring 64 singles players, Harwell will face Virginia’s Chris Rodesch in the first round. Rodesch earned the Atlantic Coastal Conference’s (ACC’s) automatic qualification into the singles championship. The sophomore currently has a 25-8 record on the season and ranked No. 30 in the latest ITA singles rankings. He’s also looking to help the No. 7 seed Cavaliers win their fifth NCAA Championships team title on Sunday as they face No. 8 seed Kentucky at 3 p.m.
“George Harwell is the quintessential Vanderbilt Commodore,” said head coach Ian Duvenhage. “He has bled Black and Gold from an early age and through hard work and determination, he has become one of the best players in college tennis. He’s proven that he can beat anyone in the nation and I’m excited to be part of the final chapter of his Vanderbilt career.”
Making his first appearance in the NCAA Singles Championship, Harwell is also the first Dore to compete in the singles championship since Cameron Klinger and Daniel Valent in 2018. In a list that includes associate head coach Ryan Lipman, Harwell is the 15th individual to represent the Black and Gold in the NCAA Singles Championship.
An All-SEC first team honoree, Harwell enters championship play with 20 singles wins on the season, including five ranked wins all on the top court. Harwell also had a historic regular season home finale on April 10 against in-state rival and No. 6 Tennessee, reaching 100 singles wins after defeating then-14th ranked Adam Walton, who is the No. 3 seed in the NCAA Singles Championship. Earlier in the season, the Nashville native won a three-set thriller over No. 4 seed Liam Draxl of Kentucky, who was No. 94 on March 25, and the preseason No. 1 and 2021 NCAA singles semifinalist. Draxl clinched Kentucky’s NCAA semifinal win against No. 4 seed Ohio State on Saturday to propel the Wildcats to their first championship team appearance in program history. Draxl and Kentucky will face No. 7 seed Virginia at 3 p.m. Sunday during the championship match.
“I couldn’t be more excited to compete for this great university one more time,” said Harwell. “The coaches and I have worked very hard to prepare for this moment and we are very confident that I can make a deep tournament run.”
No. 31 in the latest ITA singles rankings and a mainstay at No. 1 singles, Harwell clinched three matches on the season and achieved a career-best singles ranking of 26th on Feb. 9.
Vandy’s best singles championship finish came in 2004 after two-time ITA All-American Chad Harris ended his run as a quarterfinalist, falling short to eventual semifinalist Gabor Zoltan Pelva of Auburn.
Behind the Scenes at Atkins & Khan
The NCAA Championships will be played at the Khan Outdoor Tennis Complex in Champaign, part of Atkins Tennis Center. Home of Fighting Illini tennis, Atkins Tennis Center & Khan Outdoor Tennis Complex features eight championship courts with built-in bleachers and lights, an indoor facility with six courts, pro shop, locker rooms and lounge areas. In addition to the championship courts, there are 12 lighted and newly refinished courts on-site.
The venue has hosted several collegiate, professional and elite junior tournaments, including the 2013 NCAA Division I Women’s and Men’s NCAA Tennis Championships and one of the longest running professional tournaments on the USTA Pro Circuit – the JSM Challenger. The 2013 NCAA Championships was the first time a Midwest school hosted the NCAA Tournament since the women’s and men’s championships were combined in 2005.
The NCAA combined tennis individual championships covers both men and women over six days. The NCAA Singles Championship is a six-match event, while the NCAA Doubles Championship is five matches, where the champions will be crowned during the championship matches on Saturday.
See below for full schedule throughout the NCAA Individual Championships (all times CT):
- Monday, May 23: Singles First Round – Matches start at 10 a.m.; First serve for Harwell’s match against Rodesch at 5 p.m.
- Tuesday, May 24: Singles Second Round and Doubles First Round – 10 a.m.
- Wednesday, May 25: Singles and Doubles Round of 16 – 10 a.m.
- Thursday, May 26: Singles and Doubles Quarterfinals – Noon CT
- Friday, May 27: Singles and Doubles Semifinals – Noon CT
- Saturday, May 28: Singles and Doubles Championship Finals – Noon CT