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Sunday, May 16, 2010

No Surprises as Sunday's Regional Play Decides Remaining Teams in D-I Sweet Sixteen


The NCAA Division I men's regionals were completed today, with all ten of the top 16 seeds in action defeating their lower-ranked opponents. Most of the matches were not close, with only the Georgia - Florida State match going the distance. Playing at home in Athens, the No. 11 Bulldogs fell behind 3-1, winning the doubles point but losing the first three singles matches at lines 6, 3 and 2. Christian Vitulli made it 3-2 with a win at 5, Garrapiz won a three-setter at 1 and Drake Bernstein clinched it at 4, breaking at 3-4 in the third and, after saving at least two break points in the final game, holding for the 7-6(5), 6-7(7), 6-3 win that gave Georgia a 4-3 victory.

The only previous time I was in Athens for the NCAAs was 2007, when that great men's team led by John Isner cruised to the title and the women's team made the quarterfinals. The crowds were a revelation to me--I'd never seen so many fans at a college tennis match before--but I don't expect the atmosphere to approach that level this year. With the women's team failing to make the final 16 and the men's team a decided underdog against No. 6 Florida in Friday night's match, the sound of barking dogs may be a lot less common this year.

In the eight men's matches scheduled for Friday, six of them will be between conference rivals: Virginia(1) vs. Duke(16), Stanford(8) vs. UCLA(9), Ohio State(4) vs. Wisconsin, Georgia(11) vs. Florida(6), Oklahoma vs. Texas(3) and Texas A & M (10) vs. Baylor (7). The only two non-conference matchups are Southern California(5) vs. Kentucky(12) and Louisville(15) vs. Tennessee(2). I think it's an unfortunate consequence of adhering to geographical regions and also, of course, a reflection of the dominance of a few conferences. The Big 12 and SEC each have four teams in the Sweet 16, followed by the Pac-10 with three, the ACC and Big Ten with two, and the Big East with one.

The women's Sweet 16 also has a nearly identical concentration of six conferences: The ACC has five, the SEC and the Pac-10 three, the Big Ten and Big 12 have two each and the Big East has one. Yet only three of their matchups in Athens on Thursday will be intra-conference: Baylor vs. Texas, Ole Miss vs. Florida and Florida State vs. North Carolina. If I were giving out grades for the two NCAA committees, I'd give the women's group a B+ and the men's a C-. At a national tournament, we need some interesting matches we haven't seen before, like Duke vs. UCLA and Michigan vs. Tennessee.

For the women's bracket, click here. For the men's bracket, click here.

NCAA Division III sends only eight teams to its Finals sites, and those eight teams were decided today. For the women's bracket, click here. For the men's bracket, click here.

There's been lots of other tennis going on this weekend of course. Check back tomorrow for my recap of the results from the junior and Pro Circuit events.

25 comments:

wi tennis said...

great match in Athens, today. Was fun to see. Garrapiz and Vitulli did it for them in singles. Vitulli played lights out doubles today.

Remember that the Sweet 16 goes by seeding, so you can't blame that on regionalization. I agree with a lot of the 2nd round match ups being unfortunate.

Austin said...

Well I went 31-1 1st round, only losing the ETSU-Bama match...and 15-1 in 2nd round, only losing the TTech-Okl match. That was one of the 2nd round matchups I couldnt make my mind up about, def would have picked the Sooners knowing Carvalho was injured. Anyone know what happened?

Truth be told I dont think any of Illinois, Wisconsin, Texas Tech or Oklahoma are one of the best sixteen teams in the country.

Texas may have won 4-0 over Minnesota, but that match was much closer than meets the eye. Horns better play better in Athens or they are toast.

Stanford was also in a much closer match than the final score indicates.

I was very surprised by the OSU-Michigan match. That very well could have ended up 4-3.

Florida State underachieved all year...including today.

There are a few matches in Athens that Im not sure will be that close, but if Louisville wins the doubles point over Tennessee they could have a shot. Its a shame too because I think they could beat just about anyone...except the Vols.

If UVA is going to finally win the title its going to be extremely difficult, they have four VERY tough matches ahead of them in hot, humid Georgia.

Should be a great week.

Also, how does USC & UGA women not make the Sweet Sixteen, REALLY????!!

just a fluke? said...

I agree it's a bummer to have so many conference match-ups in the round of 16, but is this something the ncaa comm. can control? I don't think it can. No. 1 has to play No. 16 and No. 2 has to play No. 15 and so on. Is this more just a fluke than a committee doing a poor job?

eric said...

Too bad Cal can't close it at # 2 dubs.They would have had a chance to go to Athens:( It looks like they all just gave up in singles, the Bruins crushed them. UCLA showed a lot of heart--good luck to them! It should be a great match against Stanford.

Colette Lewis said...

@just a fluke
But they changed some of the seedings from the rankings, so they have control over it at that stage.

socal said...

That's two years in a row the USC women not make the sweet 16. Shocking?????

Tennis Guru said...

Colette-

I wish you could have seen the crowds in Athens when they were hosting every year in the 80s-90s. The students were in session and they were getting 4-6 thousands fans a day. That would be "Colette Heaven"!

Everyone thought it was home field advantage for Georgia but once the NCAA decided to move the Championships form Georgia, everyone thought it should be back in Athens because no one could come close to the fan support. It should be there always, like Kalamazoo for the Boys 16s/18s.

Even without the students in session, the atmosphere the city of Athens brings to the NCAA's is far greater than any other campus.

It's always a shame when it's not in Athens!!

Tennis Guru said...

Just a fluke

The NCAA committee did a TERRIBLE JOB!!!!

No way there should be a conference matchup in the Rd of 16 unless one conference has 5-6 teams playing.

It's a shame for college tennis and I hope this is the last year it happens.

Tyler said...

I think it's no suprise that you see conference match ups in the round of 16. If you look at the first two women's rounds, there's clearly a lack of parody amongst the teams. I attended the women's regional in Gainesville, UF and Washington dominated until they met. I also watched Miami beat a clearly overmatched USF team but felt that Washington would beat Miami. Clearly the strongest 64 teams on the women's side were not in the tournament. That's where I think the NCAA should not fail. I think the tournament should have the strongest 64 teams each and every year. If they plan on keeping it regional then the NCAA should expand the field.

Collete, do the teams no longer play for 3rd and 4th at the regional? These players work so hard in their individual sport of choice and if their team is about to be eliminated they don't even get to finish the match, it's like speed chess. I only had a day in Gainesville, but the UF women were so fast destroying SC State you could barely finish a sandwhich.

Eric Amend said...

Tennis Guru,

While I agree that UGA is a great location, and environment, for hosting the NCAAs, and we always look forward to playing in Athens, there is no way they should host every year becase it was, and would be, an unfair advantage for Georgia!!!  Back during the years you're speaking about, the Men's NCAA Tennis Championships were the only NCAA Championships that did not rotate it's location.  That in itself is unfair. Why should Georgia have the luxury, and unfair advantage, of playing on their home courts with their home crowd showing up in mass support every single year??  One reason is because of those large crowds brought significant revenue to the NCAA while most other Championships never made a profit for the NCAAs.  That's puts profit above fair competition!!

Another reason it's unfair is because it's a HUGE recruiting tool for Georgia to tell juniors that they will be able to play every single NCAA Championship on their home courts.

I speak from personal experience because I was a member of the 1987 USC Team that finished out season undefeated at 30-0.  During that regular season, we easily beat Georgia 5-1 in the final of the Blue-Gray Tournament in March.  (Matches consisted of a total of 9 points back then and singles were played before doubles) Doubles was only contested if necessary in the tournament format, same as today. 

Two months later, we lost to Georgia in the Semi-finals 4-3 and the significant difference for Georgia was that raucous crowd yelling, screaming, and barking during the entire match.  As a player, when you're in the middle of a point and you hear loud barking a few courts down, you know it's not your teammate that just won the last point and you know you'll get the same treatment when you lose a point.  
Two to three hours of that applies significant pressure that only people who've competed againg Georgia in that environment during the NCAAs can understand and appreciate!!

I've told Coach Diaz before that Athens is the best place for the NCAAs to be held AS LONG AS YOU DONT HAVE TO PLAY GEORGIA!!!! 

I'm sorry but it's not possible for that site to remain an annual destination for the NCAAs and NOT be an unfair advantage for Georgia!!  
  

been-there said...

Why Athens though? What does Athens do to get the fans so involved? Or is it just that the facility is more superior? Or are there more tennis playing fans that go to UGA?

fluke said...

Guru, Believe me I'm not a big fan of the NCAA tennis comm. But if you have a draw that feeds in through 64 teams your hands are tied if the No. 1 seeds is from ACC and the No. 16 seed is from the ACC (and so on). There is nothing a committee can do to avoid that potential r-16 match being between schools from the same conference. If you say just flip the No. 15 seed with the 16 seed, then that's probably worse and pretty unfair to No. 15 that would have to play No. 16 and far from ideal. When you have 3-4 conferences making up the bulk of the final 16 you're going to have match-ups like this year. This year is more than usual, but every year there are some.

Austin said...

They could just do it like basketball and have four teams per seed. Sounds simple enough to me. It also helps avoid conference conflicts.

Jawja said...

Been-there, It's a big event that's totally embraced by a small town. That doesn't happen overnight, but as the years went by, you had the town targeting late May & the event built up more and more momentum. Though, the rotating has killed the momentum. Also, UGA used to be on the quarter system, so all the students were still there during the event. They've switched to semesters, so most everyone's gone by this time.

As Eric Amend says, Georgia puts on the best event. Everything's fine as long as you don't have to play Georgia. The other locations just don't have the same energy. Sure it's more fair to rotate, but it's just not as big a deal in other locations. For example, it's hard to make it big in a large city. There's just too much else going on.

As far as the SC team that Eric Amend played on that reached the semis undefeated. They split the singles with Georgia 3-3. In the doubles, SC won at #1 & lost at #3. It came down to #2. Trey Carter & TJ Middleton beat Eric & Luke Jensen 5&3 in the deciding match.

There were plenty of vocal students there. Something that won't happen this year. Now would SC have won if they didn't play in Athens? Who knows...

wi tennis said...

Good point, Colette, about the NCAA changing around the seeding. I suppose the ITA does the rankings, but still it seems pretty accurate. Why is the NCAA so arrogant to think that they know more than the ITA?

Eric, I agree with your comments about the home court advantage for Georgia. However, as you said, it's the best place (I would add, by far) to have the NCAA's unless you're playing Georgia. Tulsa doesn't get great crowds or have a great set-up. No one goes to A&M to watch. I'm not sure about Stanford.

The question becomes: who else has a huge fan base of tennis within 1.5 hours(like the city of Atlanta), 6 courts plus another 6 courts that are set-up for college tennis matches, 4 indoors on-site and a major airport within 1.5 hours.

They looked at Illinois last year, but said no. Obviously, looking at Oklahoma and UVA this year.

I think it is hard to find another city with the tennis craziness of Atlanta. That's the bottom line.

UVA might be a possibility. I doubt Oklahoma City has the fan base. The Billie Jean King Center would be my alternative site, if the USTA would allow it and offer it for cheap.

Do you think L.A. has the die-hard college athletics fans and/or tennis fans to bring thousands for day sessions? I would guess, no.

I definitely don't have a lot of sympathy for having to recruit players to USC. Such a hard job!

seeding said...

It would make the most sense if they just went straight off the ITA Rankings. That said you should have seen what it was like 10-15 years ago. The NCAA comm. routinely would seed teams anywhere from 5-10 spots from their ITA ranking. It was crazy. So it's actually come a long way from where it was. I remember one year when Baylor was ranked around No. 8 by ITA, but seeded around No. 14 or 15 by NCAA and ended up not hosting the opening rounds. They would do the same thing in singles and doubles seedings. It actually made the selection announcement kind of exciting because you had almost no idea what was going to happen with some of the seeds.

wahoo fan said...

Wi tennis, UVa currently does not have the facilities to properly host the NCAAs. Another big issue is hotel rooms. The first weekend of the event usually corresponds with graduation. Many of Charlottesville's hotel rooms for that weekend are booked a year in advance. Not sure they could accommodate everyone the first weekend.

Eric Amend said...

Wi,

I don't feel that it's a prerequesite to have "thousands" of spectators at the NCAA Championships in order to consider them sucessful or for the collegiate athelete to be satisfied with their NCAA experience.

I never mentioned that an LA school should look to host as an alternative to any venue that has hosted in the past.

And I think USC seems to be doing just fine with our recruiting (see Van't Hof/Farah 2008 NCAA Doubles Champions, Farah two-time PAC-10 player of the year and three-time Doubles team of the year with Van't Hof and twice with Johnson, and Johnson winning the ITA Indoors and holding the #1 singles ranking for most of this year.

Yea, I'd say we don't need your simpathy in that regard.
It's not all about getting a huge crowd out to support your team in order to make it a place where top level players want to come to play for your school. A rich tradition of winning and 17 times to the top of the mountain has a funny way of trumping large crowds!!

wi tennis said...

Eric, I was wondering if you thought they could host it in L.A.? I wasn't being condescending. Generally, it's dry enough to not need indoors. However, I was being sarcastic about recruiting to USC. I am very aware of the history.

I think the fans are truly a big element of picking the site. What player would not want to play in front of thousands, whether they are cheering for or against them or even neutral. Clearly, the NCAA also wants to make money or at least break even on hosting the event.

Are there any neutral sites that anyone knows of that have 2 sets of 6 courts in a row, indoor on-site, a major airport close by and a decent tennis fan base. Additionally, there has to be a close by university that wants to take on the tasks and has knowledge of hosting a big tennis event. Facilities people, Sports info, etc.

Sorry, I wrote too much on this comment section. No more.

athens rules said...

NCAA host site is always fun topic on these pages.

I think it's almost an impossible task to get more than a couple great crowds these days at any final site. The tournament is sooo long. The final rounds of the team tournament are what 6 days now w/ men and women at the same site? Who has the time to go to more than a couple matches? And then add another 6 days for the singles and doubles where the matches are held to 9-5. Forget about crowds for that. Even Athens' crowds can be a little sparse when the matches don't involve UGA.

I like the idea of an east-west rotation or perhaps even a Georgia-any other school rotation. There is so much history in Athens it would be a shame not to have it there on a regular basis. I understand what Eric is saying, though re: unfair advantage, but that is the mecca of college tennis. There's no place even close.

jawja said...

Wonder if Eric would be quite so emphatic, if he & Luke Jensen hadn't lost the deciding match at #2 doubles in that long ago UGA-USC match. The teams had split the singles & #1 and #3 doubles. It came down to that match.

Sorry, but couldn't resist the dig.

Sure, there is a beneficial home court advantage for the Dawgs.
However, the one thing that gets me is that undefeated USC team feels/felt like the NCAA title was rightfully theirs.
We've seen several teams go through the season undefeated and yet lose deep in the NCAAs. A great Baylor team on a big winning streak lost to a UCLA team that had several losses & didn't put it together until the end.

I.E. just because you beat someone earlier in the year doesn't mean you will later. USC hypes that "easy" 5-1 win over UGA win (earlier in the year) as a reason they would have beaten Georgia anywhere but Athens.
Last year's USC team lost 5 times, but when it mattered they rolled over an undefeated #1 UVa.

Even the great undefeated Georgia team with Isner (that no one was supposed to touch) had a close battle (@ home) in the NCAA semis vs Virginia. Just saying...

Anyways, that one year with USC was over the top and you won't likely see it again. Particularly, because the students are gone. Back then, the school year didn't end until June (the old quarter system).

This year, with Georgia not a contender, it should be a great "fair" event for everyone.

trojanfan said...

Athens:

BRING IT ON !!!

Eric Amend said...

Jawja,

You're argument about the other undefeated teams not winning the NCAA Tournament is unsubstantiated, just as you're saying that my claim about how my 1987 USC team would have beaten UGA at a neutral NCAA site isn't valid.

The reason you're argument is weak is because those undefeated teams, that lost deep in the NCAAs, didn't lose to the host school, on the host school's courts, in front of the host school's crowd!! Did they?? So we will never know how much a home court advantage would, or wouldn't, have helped them.

Just like we will never know if my 1987 USC team would have won somewhere else BUT, we did beat UGA at a neutral site so I do have a prior substantiated fact to support my argument, you do not. But that's a maybe, and I'm not into maybes.

Maybe UGA's 2008 or USC's 2009 team might have lost to those undefeated UVA teams if UVA had hosted in front of their fans, on their home courts.

Maybe the home court surface, or the home crowd, was the difference for UGA in 2007 that pushed them over the top when they beat that UVA team. We won't ever know, but like I said, I'm not into maybes, I'm into what is fair and an even playing field as possible for all participants.

The point of my whole argument is that it's ridiculous to ignore the obvious fact that it would be unfair for UGA to host the tournament every single year just because they have a better environment, both on and off the court, than any other venue in the U.S.

Think about it one more time, If Georgia hosted the NCAAs every year, they would be the ONLY team that would have the luxury of playing every single home match on the same surface and same site as the NCAA Finals venue in May. Not only that but they would be, and were back in the 80's, the ONLY team in the U.S. that didn't have to travel to the NCAA Tournament site!! Try to convince any coach or player that that isn't a HUGE issue for the "away" teams YET, the biggest travel problem UGA has is driving down the street from their college housing to whichever hotel that they get placed. Think it's going to be the Holiday Inn?? I highly doubt it!!!

Also, EVERY team gets minimal practice time on the courts when you arrive for the tournament because court time is difficult to attain. (As far as I know, every team gets exactly an hour and a half to practice on the courts that their matches will be played on before the tournament starts) YET, that isn't too big a distraction for Georgia because they play on these courts all year!!!



One last note about 1987 and our "feeling that we felt NCAA Title was rightfully ours".

Isn't that the attitude EVERY single team or athlete needs to feel when they step on the field of play??? That this is our title and you're going to have to rip it from our cold, dead hands before you can have it!! (re:Chuck Heston)
YES, I believe it is, otherwise you don't stand a chance of winning in the first place!!

The Boston Celtics have ALWAYS felt this way, The NY Yankees, Duke Basketball,

The SEC Conference has the same exact attitude when it comes to Football; no other conference in recent history measures up to their conference. And you know what, they have the titles to prove it and that gives them a mental edge on the field!!

Just as the PAC-10 DOMINATED college tennis from 1950 to 2000 by winning 45 NCAA Titles in 50 years. We felt we were going to win in '87!! Why on ea

Frank said...

If anyone wants to discuss fair versus unfair advantage, how about those schools that are still in class. Not all teams have finished finals yet. That's what I really call an unfair disadvantage. Some schools have been out since before the first and second rounds. And others aren't done until sometime in June.

georgia said...

Blah...blah...blah..

Let the games begin !!