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Players are getting to experience the best Florida tennis has to offer with the Rick Macci Academy and Tennis Center becoming a host site for UTR Pro Tennis Tour events. Universal Tennis just released an updated 2022 calendar with 50 more events and Boca Raton is prominently featured.
The Macci Academy held its first PTT $25K men’s event in March with Sekou Bangoura (13.63) beating Preston Brown (13.08) in the final. Like all PTT events, the tournament spanned a full week with round-robin play followed by playoff matches.
“We wanted to bring a pro tennis tournament here simply because we have an amazing facility—everybody says it's like Disneyland and Candyland,” Macci said. “We have the Battle of Boca here every weekend.
Creating a Pro Pathway for Players
Jason Zafiros, the director of high performance at the Macci Academy, created the Battle of Boca set up a pathway for local players to earn wild cards into PTT events. This way, the talented junior and college players who train at his facility can not only benefit from watching pros compete, but can also earn a chance to face off against them.
“The reason we're hosting is we just want to action here at the facility,” Zafiros said. “It was such a great opportunity with the UTR Ratings to put together group play. They're getting a crazy amount of matches guaranteed, and every match is at a high level.”
The Battle of Boca began in 2020 after the pandemic decimated playing options for players of all levels. Backed by IMG Academy, the open-level tournament turned into a staple in the community and is now held nearly every single weekend.
Using Universal Tennis to the Fullest
Hosted on the Universal Tennis platform, Zafiros relies on UTR Ratings to make the draws and guarantees two matches (with a back draw).
“I do the best I can to give equal matches, especially in the first round of Battle of Boca,” Zafiros said. “
With a $10,000 prize money purse (and added prizes like Yeezys and Lulu Lemon gift cards), the Battle of Boca has attracted big names in the pro and junior world including Stefan Kozlov, Jana Kolodynska, Gabriella Price, Emilio Nava, Nicolas Mejia, and Martin Damm Jr.
The Battle of Boca is open to all levels but to be eligible for a wild card into an upcoming PTT event, a player must be a 12+ UTR for men and 9.2+ UTR for women. The PTT gurantees three to six matches per week and prize money for every player, from $300-$3,600.
Providing Quality Match Play and Earnings
“Players like me and the players on the ITF Tour, we're looking for things like this,” Begoura said. “It's so tough with the expenses, traveling week in, week out… These tournaments are great for us for confidence. We get a lot of matches, it's good camaraderie, good energy, and of course, great money.”
Zafiros and Macci are just getting started as they plan to host six more men’s and women’s PTT tournaments in 2022, the level is expected to increase.
“As of right now, maybe 12.5 UTRs are getting in, but over the summer, that's going to change
Growing the Game Together
The Macci Academy has been a staple in South Florida for decades as the launching pad for many future Grand Slam champions including Serena and Venus Williams, Maria Sharapova, Jennifer Capriati, Andy Roddick, and more.
Standing at the helm is Macci, a world-renowned coach with over 40 years of experience. He was recently played on the big screen by Jon Bernthal in King Richard. At 67 years old, he’s still putting in long hours on the court giving lessons and supporting players who are chasing their dreams under his watchful gaze.
After relocating the academy to west Boca two years ago, the 19 courts nestled inside the South County Regional Park have become a central location for elite players.
“We're just so excited with the Battle of Boca and the Pro Tennis Tour in the same environment,” Zafiros said. “Basically, this is just a one-stop-shop for junior tennis, pro tennis, college tennis. It's amazing.”
Bringing more PTT events to South Florida is a no-brainer. The next Boca Raton PTT will be a men’s $25K during the week of May 8 followed by the first women’s PTT $25K during the week of May 29.
“The PTT and the guaranteed prize money is a game-changer,” Macci said. “I think this is long overdue in tennis, and for
About the UTR Pro Tennis Tour
The PTT is open to players with a UTR Ranking of 200-2000, and wild cards can be awarded to those players with a UTR Ranking of 1-199 or above 2000. Every PTT event creates matchplay opportunities for up-and-coming, collegiate, and pro players thanks to a unique round-robin format. At every event, a group round-robin stage is followed by a World Cup-style playoff, guaranteeing multiple matches and counting all results towards the UTR Rating, the most accurate rating system in tennis. Every PTT event offers 4-5 matches and a minimum of $20,000 in prize money with an earnings guarantee for every participant.
For more information about UTR PTT, click here.
UTR Ratings as of Feb. 28, 2022, at 9 a.m. EST.