Stanford Women, Virginia Men Stay at No. 1; Inside Tennis Talks with Paul Torricelli; Fahoum of Duke Has Unique Perspective on Middle East
The second rankings of the spring season were released by the ITA this afternoon, with the Stanford women and Virginia men retaining places at the top. There are, in fact, no changes at all among the Top 16 on the men's side. In the women's rankings, Notre Dame fell all the way from No. 4 to No. 12 on the basis of their home loss to Arkansas in the ITA Kick-off weekend final, while the Razorbacks moved up to 14 from their previous spot at 23. The University of Washington women rose to the 15th spot, after their Kick-off weekend wins over Texas and Florida State, both of whom fell out of the Top 16. There will be another team ranking next Tuesday, and on the 14th, there will be new individual rankings too. For the complete team rankings, see the ITA website.
The Virginia men are a fixture at the top of the college tennis rankings, and Liz Clarke, who is the tennis reporter for the Washington Post, wrote this article about the rise of the program and the role college tennis plays in development, not just of professional tennis players, but of balanced and mature young people.
Another recent interesting piece centered around college tennis is this Q and A with former Northwestern men's coach Paul Torricelli, who was inducted into the ITA Men's Hall of Fame in 2009. Torricelli, now back in the Bay Area working at a private club, spoke with Inside Tennis reporter Richard Osborn about finding the right school for each player, new USTA Chairman Jon Vegosen, college as a development option, international players on collegiate rosters, and coaching Todd Martin.
In his questions, Osborn seems stuck in 2006, with comments such as "the growing number of foreign-born athletes" and "our top players are often skipping college." I believe the international player count has been pretty steady over the past few years, and I'm not sure "often" is the word in the second phrase. Although Ryan Harrison, Jordan Cox and Denis Kudla did turn pro, Rhyne Williams, Chase Buchanan, Tennys Sandgren, Alex Domijan, Raymond Sarmiento, Evan King, Ryan Thacher, Devin Britton and Bradley Klahn did not. I also think that Osborn is wrong in maintaining that because tennis isn't a revenue sport, there's no pressure to win. He also gets Sam Querrey's choice of schools wrong (it was USC, not UCLA, that Querrey committed to before turning pro), but I don't want to nitpick. He does ask some good questions, and Torricelli gives some even better answers. Here's one exchange about international players.
IT: But there are still the Stanfords of the world who are still capable of grabbing the top Americans and not necessarily having to go beyond our borders for top talent.
PT: Right. But if you’re the coach at Mississippi State, a very good tennis program, SEC, arguably the best conference in the country, you CAN’T be competitive recruiting Americans. They’re not going to go to Starkville, Mississippi. They’re going to snub their noses at it. You may pick up a couple of guys, but you’re mostly going to have to do it internationally.
And for an inspiring story about one of those international athletes, check out this story in the Duke Chronicle about Nadine Fahoum, a senior transfer from Old Dominion. Growing up as an Arab in Israel, Fahoum went to a Jewish school and was was encouraged to see the conflict between the two cultures from both perspectives. Excelling at tennis led to more integration and ultimately, to a university in the United States. Looking beyond yourself and your comfort zone isn't easy; Fahoum is one example of the rewards of doing just that.