Virginia Men and Stanford Women Top Team Rankings; Williams and Juricova Take No. 1 Spots in Singles; A Look at 2011's First ITF Junior Rankings
It's been nearly two months since the college season unofficially went on hiatus after the USTA/ITA Indoor, so the release of the first Campbell/ITA team rankings and the first individual rankings that take into account the fall results is a welcome reminder that college tennis will be back, and soon.
The Stanford women, who won the 2010 NCAA title and have added Kristie Ahn and Nicole Gibbs to their roster since then, are unsurprisingly No. 1. They are followed by NCAA finalists Florida, with Baylor No. 3 and Notre Dame No. 4. In the 5-10 positions are UCLA, North Carolina, Duke, Michigan, Northwestern and Cal-Berkeley. Although the rankings on the ITF website don't show the number of votes cast (the team rankings are done by polling until the computer takes over in March), the email I received does, and Stanford got 46 of the 52 first place votes. Florida added two excellent in-state recruits in Olivia Janowicz and Alex Cercone, as well as Belgian Sofie Oyen to an already formidable lineup, but the state of Gator No. 1 Lauren Embree's wrist is the big question mark.
The top spot in the men's rankings is occupied by Virginia, followed by two-time defending NCAA champions USC and 2010 NCAA finalist Tennessee. The first-place votes cast for the Cavaliers and the Trojans were almost equally divided, with Virginia getting 23 and USC 20, with the Volunteers collecting 5 (No, I don't know why there are 52 votes in the women's poll and 48 in the men's). The teams voted into the 4-10 positions are Ohio State, Texas, UCLA, Baylor, Stanford, Florida and Texas A&M. In talking to coaches during the Florida junior tournaments, I got the impression that Virginia was considered a big favorite by most of them, so I am a little surprised at how close the vote is. But because USC has won two straight NCAA titles, I imagine it's difficult to vote against them, even if they did lose Robert Farah, who occupied the No. 1 position in both of their title years. Texas will also be searching for a new No. 1, and while Steve Johnson will undoubtedly replace Farah at USC's No. 1 spot, the Longhorns have no obvious candidate to take Dimitar Kutrovsky's place atop the lineup. Tennessee's only loss from the starting six is Matt Brewer, and with the fall results that Rhyne Williams and Matteo Fago posted, they figure to be right in the thick of things again this year.
Tennessee had the preseason No. 1 in JP Smith, now they have USTA/ITA Indoor champion Williams occupying the top spot, with Smith falling to No. 21. Williams is followed by Eric Quigley of Kentucky, Alex Domijan of Virginia, Alex Lacroix of Florida and Reid Carleton of Duke. Virginia has five players in the top 27, and their lowest ranked player is Michael Shabaz. You will have a hard time convincing college tennis junkies that Shabaz is the 27th best player in college right now, so it's just another reminder that these rankings will change, often dramatically, in the next few months. The top-ranked doubles team is Jeff Dadamo and Austin Krajicek of Texas A&M, who won the Indoor title.
The only Indoor champion not to be ranked No. 1 is Maria Sanchez of USC, who comes in behind Indoor finalist Jana Juricova of Cal and Marta Lesniak of SMU. Duke's Reka Zsilinszka is No. 4 and Hilary Barte of Stanford is No. 5. NCAA champion Chelsey Gullickson of Georgia did not play collegiate tennis this fall, but she will be back this spring and will back near the top of the rankings too. Florida's Sofie Oyen and Allie Will, the Indoor champions, are the top-ranked doubles team.
For the complete rankings, see the ITA website.
The ITF published its first junior rankings of 2011 today, which drop players who age out at year-end. This includes Juan Sebastian Gomez of Colombia, who finished the year as the ITF World Junior champion. The new world No. 1 is Jiri Vesely of the Czech Republic. There was no change atop the girls rankings with 16-year-old Daria Gavrilova of Russia, the ITF World Junior champion in 2010, retaining her No. 1 position.
There aren't any sound conclusions to be drawn from any of the information I'm about to impart, but for what it's worth, there are six American girls in the ITF Top 50: Lauren Davis(4), Grace Min(22), Sloane Stephens(23), Madison Keys(27) and Chanelle Van Nguyen(50). Russia ties the U.S. for the most, but three of their six are in the Top 10. Indy de Vroome of the Netherlands is the only 14-year-old in the Top 50.
In the boys Top 50, Bjorn Fratangelo is the top American at 23, followed by Shane Vinsant(24), Alexios Halebian(26), Dennis Novikov(32) and Mitchell Krueger(40). The country with the next highest number of Top 50 players is Brazil, with four. The youngest player in the boys Top 50 is No. 35 Nikola Milojevic of Serbia, who is 15 years old.
The complete rankings can be found at the ITF Junior website.