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Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Fields Revealed for NCAA D-I Individual Championships

In college tennis, we don't have just one "Selection Sunday" as they call it basketball, but two days of announcements for the NCAAs. Yesterday was the NCAA team selection, today the individual fields were posted on ncaa.com.

The men's subcommittee made one change that affected the seeding, with Virginia's Dominic Inglot, who is 17th in the latest rankings, bumping Ohio State's Bryan Koniecko out of his 16th spot. Inglot does have a win over Koniecko last fall at the Indoor, but he's lost his last three completed matches, while Koniecko hasn't lost since he dropped that clinching match to Treat Huey at the Team Indoor. Being members of the two top-ranked teams, they wouldn't meet until the team final, and probably not then, with Koniecko playing at No. 1 now. The draw for the individual tournament is a long way off, but I'll be looking for that potential matchup.

The final at-large bid in the men's went to No. 58 ranked Guillermo Gomez, the Georgia Tech freshman. Luis Flores of Georgia, ranked 59th, is not in the field, but he's also not listed as an alternate, which sounds ominous for Georgia's chances in the team event. Stanford's Matt Bruch and Boise State's Luke Shields are also not in the field, although Shields will compete in doubles with his brother Clancy. For a complete list of the men's field, click here.

Two-time NCAA runnerup Lindsey Nelson of USC was 57th in the most recent rankings and that was just high enough to get the final at-large bid. Kelley Hyndman of Georgia, ranked No. 58, is the first alternate. Notable women not making the cut this year are Stanford's Celia Durkin and Lindsay Burdette, a quarterfinalist last year. All of the alternates should take heart, however, from Washington's Alex Slovic, who reached the semifinals last year as the sixth alternate and the final player to make the field.

For the women's complete list, click here.

I would love to hear from anybody (no anonymous comments please) who thinks that Devvarman will not win the men's title again this year. Although I could come up with a scenario that would make his losing possible, I don't expect it to happen. As for the women, the crystal ball is much murkier. Mijacika of Clemson has been the most consistent all year, but at this stage, I wouldn't bet against Hilary Barte of Stanford.


Austin said...

I have a great theory about Devvarman not winning the title. If he goes up against Travis Helgeson he will lose. I also think Alex Clayton could get him if they met in the quarters, and the quarters only. Anything past that point and I think the stage gets too big for AC to pull that upset. The one thing about mens tennis this year is that the only person I see with the ability to even crack the top400 is Somdev, and I think he is going to top out anywhere from 80-150 if he maximizes his potential. I honestly dont see anyone else with any chance at the next level. I hope I am wrong though. I have been following college tennis very closely since about 2001 and I have not seen a weaker level of play than this year. However, that is what makes it so exciting as well. There are a ton of really good collegiate players, but just not of the professional caliber like in years past.

The girl from Arkansas is going to take the title home.

gsm said...

You mean the same Helgeson who lost to Hensel for the deciding point versus TN & then got beat by Ouellette in the SECs . I guess those 7 losses over the course of the season are much less representative than Somdev's 1 loss. In modern times, say the last 30 years, I'm not sure if any NCAA champ has made it through the season with just 1 loss. Would be interested to know for sure what the answer is. Georgia has not had anyone do it. The great Pernfors lost 3 times his best year. Pretty sure UCLA USC & Stanford have not either. The only NCAA champ to win the indoors & the All-American is Sargsian. How about this Austin, if Devvarman wins his second straight title & reaches his 3rd straight final, you will actually give Somdev a compliment

Austin said...

Check and see who that loss was to, you might be interested in the name.

Austin said...

First of all I think saying he is the only one with a shot in the pros was a compliment. Hes the best player in college right now, never said he wasnt. However, he is not an overwhelming player and could certainly lose to a guy with big shots who has a good day.

And as far as being dominating, Levine's only loss last year was in the quarters of the individuals.

gsm said...

I’m just surprised at how definitive you are in thinking that if Somdev goes up against Travis, “he will lose.” There’s no explanation, so I guess you’re basing it on that one match back in October. The match that ZooTennis quoted Travis as saying, “I felt like I was pretty lucky to stay with him in the third set.”

I think you are underrating how very difficult it is to go through the season without a few losses. It’s happened to everyone. The best record going into the NCAAs (recently), as far as I can tell (correct me if I’m wrong) was Dorsch (Baylor) who only had 2 his Senior year. Two time champ Boeker (Georgia) had 3 his last year. Bob Bryan (Stanford) had at least 1, maybe more (can’t quite tell). Nonetheless, those guys were all heavy favorites going into the Singles event.

Using that same logic (an earlier defeat to Travis), I assume that in last year’s Singles you would have had Helgeson the favorite over No. 1 seed Isner if they happened to match up in the Singles. After all, Travis had beaten John in their only regular season matchup (an SEC event in Jan. 2007).

Just take Somdev's two singles matches in Athens versus Isner. That's an example of how what happened in the regular season (all Isner wins vs. Somdev) was not indicative of how the NCAAs would play out.

Look, I’m not intending to knock Travis. He’s a very good player and person. He just may take it to Somdev the next time (Poerschke is another one with a chance). However, he will have to play extremely well. I think it will be much more difficult to beat a very motivated Somdev the second time around (maybe the Team Semis?). I certainly wouldn’t put Travis as the favorite, nor do I think Travis, deep down, would even say he is. After all, Devvarman has demonstrated a propensity for playing well in May. Just ask Travis about last May. Both guys have a healthy respect for each other, but IMO, Travis is the one who has to adjust his game and take some chances in order to have a shot. Not the other way around.

There’s a chance, if Somdev actually wins the NCAAs, for him to have the fewest losses for an individual season. If it happens, regardless of the level of competition (and he proved himself last against those guys), it would be a pretty incredible accomplishment.

Also, to say Somdev has a “shot at the pros” is stating the obvious, not necessarily a compliment. Based on the fact that Somdev beat a guy Vemic ranked around 150 to win a futures in January and beat 3 top 200 guys (including Kendrick and Gimelstob, who he beat like a drum) to reach the finals of an event last summer, combined with the results of the Isner, Anderson, Levine group, I would think it’s pretty clear that Somdev (regardless of his ranking) is playing top 200 level tennis. I’m not saying he’ll do the best out of that group, but I would think that he would have relatively similar success his first year on tour. Certainly, he’s got to improve some things to potentially reach (and remain in) the top 100.

Yes, Levine only lost once, but I’d also put an asterisk next to the Isner win in Gainesville. Remember, Isner won the first set and then “bonked.” His tank hit empty and he was unable to win another game. It was Isner’s first match on a very hot day following a cooler spring in Athens.

I would say that there is one other guy out there, Poerschke (Baylor) who has a “shot at the pros.” However, he has to stay healthy (something he has trouble with) for that to happen.

Clearly, we have two different views. At least, in this great sport, they get to play it out on the court. Looking forward to some exciting tennis (and some surprises as well) in the next few weeks.

Austin said...

I didnt mean for it to come out that I thought Helgeson was the favorite, I dont really think he can put six straight matches together based on his results. In basketball there are those teams that you think can beat a #1 seed and possibly make a final four, but not many you think can win six straight and cut down the nets. Just like Helgeson is probably a better overall player than Ouellette, but head to head its advantage Greg.

For instance, Ryan Rowe could go out there against Somdev and just serve him off the court and get the win, but his results show that he probably couldnt back it up the next couple matches. Heck, Damico could go out there, hit 60 winners and pull off the victory, but i dont think the freshman could sustain it the next match against a guy like Brugues who will make him hit a million balls, once again, based on his results. Same with Schnugg who is also very talented like Damico. Those two may play for the title in the next year or two.

The only guy outside Devvarman I think could win six consecutive high-quality matches, not neccessarily against these particular people, but just six big matches in general in a row is Luis Flores. Too bad he is injured and is not match tough right now, not to mention isnt even competing in the singles event making it a moot point.

The scenario where Devvarman doesnt win is UVA makes the team finals, he will have played in the brutal Tulsa heat, singles and doubles for the previous week, then he plays both individual tourneys and is just worn down against a fresher player. Check 2003(Reynolds) and 2006(Isner).

John said...

As just a simple fan who doesn't know the sport nearly as much as some others here, I was wondering if anyone would like to comment on a few things. 1) What are Hilary Barte's (Stanford's #1) pro prospects? What are the chances that she might go pro after her freshman year? Will winning the team and/or individual title make a difference? Also, does anyone know anything about her injury during the Pac-10 championships? 2) Same questions for Marina Cossou from Berkeley. I was shocked when Nina Henkel of Cal went pro after her first year, and she wasn't ranked nearly as high as Hilary or Marina. Basically, I'm a Cal fan who hopes both stick around for a while so I can watch some entertaining tennis, but it would be cool to eventually see them survive in the pro game. I'm just curious as to others' thoughts. Thanks!

tenniswatcher said...

I just don't understand all the talk about Helgeson and Devaarman. Helgeson looked bad against Ouelette at the SEC's, where Ouelette has 2 relatively recent wins over the guy, the last being in straight sets. I believe that any guy, specifically a huge server, can get to Devaarman on any given day under the conditions of a grueling NCAA tournament. And it ain't gonna be Helgeson as I see it now.

Colette Lewis said...

There was an error made in the men's initial selection list, with the Big West's Victor Lamm not included, so he bumped Georgia Tech's Guillermo Gomez from final selection to first alternate.
Flores is now also an alternate on the revised list at NCAA.com.

Colette Lewis said...

The explanation of Flores' omission from and then inclusion on the alternate list is here.

AndrewD said...

I agree with Austin that Devvarman's chances could be decided by how much time he has to spend on court during the team's event. If that doesn't prove too draining I think he will win the individual title. However, if he is just a touch jaded I think that it won't necessarily be a big server who troubles him most. Personally, I think that you've got to be able to hang with him off the ground as well as being able to hold your own serve and there's not many players who can do that. Clayton is one and Helgeson is another but the list isn't particularly long. That said, if he is particularly fatigued it could be a grinder or counter-puncher that wears him down. On that note, don't be surprised if J.P.Smith goes a long way in the event.

Of the women, Georgia Rose had been my pick for most of the year but her form has tailed off in the last half of the season. That could mean she's either carrying an injury or lacking in fitness. If either one is the case I think she'll struggle as I do see Northwestern going very deep in, if not winning, the team title. Miseviciute is a class act, however, of her 47 wins she only played against 3 current top 10 players and 10 current top 20 players (7-3). Obviously she's good enough to win but I do wonder if that lack of tough opposition might hurt her. Same goes for Zemenova. Of the rest, my wildcard is Sanaz Marand who is definitely good enough to win it all this year.

gsm said...

Austin, I agree with your comments, especially the ones about Devvarman potentially having to play so many matches.

I also think that Devvarman would be more vulnerable early in the singles event, probably against a lesser name. When he's really pumped up, he plays a clearly higher level than against lesser opponets.

Remember he barely escaped against Parbhu (ND) last year in the first round. Somdev was up something like 6-1, 4-1. Then all of a sudden he was down a break in the 3rd and fighting to hold on. I think he won 7-5 in the third. He was VERY close to losing that one.

Tennisfan1 said...

Somdev is in the ACC. A conference with VERY little competition. Helgeson beat him with a strategy. As he will do en route to Georgia winning the team title.

gsm said...

tennisfan, I think it's foolhardy to say that playing in the ACC means Somdev has faced "little competion." Just take a look at UVa's overall schedule. Somdev's record is 6-1 against guys currently in the top 10. Remember that Ouellette did not win a game against Somdev when they played in Futures in Florida.

What I just find amazing is how in most poster's minds here, the October 2007 match between Helgeson/Devvarman totally and absolutely trumps the May 2007 match, when Somdev beat Travis 6-1, 6-2 in the Athens.

Travis may just win the next time they play, but it's not simply because he won the last time. That's like saying, hey Ferraro just beat Nadal. He's got it figured out and will beat him next time.

If Travis plays very very well, he may just win. But it will be because he happened to be the better guy on that day. Not because of something nearly 7 months ago

tennisfan1 said...

I am not saying it is impossible for Somdev to win either. I hope they get the chance to play in the team tournament, where Georgia would be the favorite in my mind.