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Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Individual NCAA Selections Announced; Snubs of Ole Miss and Baylor Continue to Chafe


The individual selections are out for the NCAA Division I championships, and they are not likely to stir up a teaspoon of the controversy that the regional site selections did yesterday, when the No. 2 Ole Miss and No. 6 Baylor men, and the No. 16 Fresno State women, were sent on the road. (Lots more on that in a moment).

The men's committee went straight down Tuesday's ITA ranking list for singles, and for seeding. It appears that Florida State's Clint Bowles, at No. 58, was the last at-large selection.

In doubles, there were a few changes from the recent rankings: LSU's Michael Venus and Neal Skupski were dropped to No. 3 from No. 2, with Davey Sandgren and JP Smith of Tennessee going from 3 to 2, and USC's Robert Farah and Steve Johnson were moved down a spot, to a 5-8 seeding, while Georgia's Jamie Hunt and Nate Schnugg were moved up to 4.

The women's committee did a lot more juggling of the singles rankings. They moved Miami's Julia Cohen up to 2 from 3, based on a head-to-head win over Aurelija Miseviciute of Arkansas last month, and moved Georgia's Chelsey Gullickson from 9 to 8, switching her with Florida's Marrit Boonstra, whom Gullickson beat in the SEC conference tournament last week. I can't find any head-to-head for Duke's Mallory Cecil and Auburn's Fani Chifchieva, but Cecil moved up a spot to 5 and Chiefchieva down to 6. Since that is in the 5-8 seeding, I'm not sure why they bothered with that one.

The women's doubles seeding followed the rankings. Like the men, it appears that the last at-large spot went to the No. 58th ranked player. Arizona freshman Natasha Marks, who reached the Pac-10 final Sunday, will be playing in the individual championships in College Station. (I'll have more on the Ojai results tomorrow or Friday.)

For the complete list of participants, see the championship site at Aggieathletics.com.

Now for the controversy. Ole Miss nation has had plenty to say about the decision to send the Rebels to Baton Rouge, and it's not just the school and its fans. The Jackson Clarion-Ledger had this article about it. And in the ultimate sign that the snub has reached national news consciousness, the sports blog Deadspin has made fun of it. (Yes, some people are really passionate about college tennis.) Deadspin has a link to the Red Cup Rebellion blog's take on the issue.

The Waco Tribune-Herald has this story, which spells out just what caused the Bears to be shipped to Tulsa.

"Essentially, what (the NCAA does) is look at a 400-mile radius,” Baylor athletic director Ian McCaw said. “That’s the bus limit. Beyond that, you fly teams. After they put together the initial bracket, they put together a computer model to minimize the number of flights. What happened in this case is that UMKC, the only location they could get to without flying was Tulsa. That resulted in us having to go to Tulsa for the first and second round.”
It turns out that Baylor will have 352 miles to travel itself, while University of Missouri-Kansas City, an unranked 49-64 seed, will drive 244 miles to Tulsa. Is the NCAA so truly out of touch that they have a program like UMKC's sitting in the front of the bus, so to speak?

I'm pretty good at geography, and I thought I'd check on another possible site, aside from the rejected Waco, that UMKC could drive to. Yep, it turns out that Illinois comes in just under the 400-mile limit. I know there are many complex factors that need to go into this, it's not as simple as saying send UMKC to Illinois, but I believe the NCAA tennis committee could have found a dozen other solutions that were more palatable to everyone. Why they didn't remains a mystery to me.

And here's the Fresno Bee's article on the 13-hour flights with two layovers that the No. 16 seeded Fresno State women's team is facing to get to Champaign for their regional.

7 comments:

tenns said...

Do they enter the highest ranked player in the big west??

the old pro said...

if both domijan and harrison win today in the vero beach futures they will play each other tomorrow. that is a match i'd like to see. also, it is an incredibly strong field so it would be quite an accomplishment for them to reach the quarters.

gsm said...

Cal qualified 5 girls for the singles Wonder if that's the most ever from one team?

scott said...

I know Florida women had 6 singles players selected in 1997. They had 5 in 2003(plus 3 doubles teams). I would wager Stanford has probably had 5 or 6 before. Very impressive for Cal. I think when healthy, they have to be one of the favorites as a team.

John said...

No doubt, Women's Illinois team being picked to host is all political!

Austin said...

Stanford had all six I believe as recently as three years ago maybe. If memory serves they had 4 or 5 of them seeded.

Robin said...

In 2004 Stanford had 8 players inside the top 100 going into the NCAA championships. I'm sure they must have had at least 6 picked. They also had 6 inside the top 50 in 2005 so the whole lot probably went through.