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Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Stanford Regains Top Spot in ITA Rankings, Prepares to Meet USTA Jr Team Friday; Daniel Nguyen and Connie Hsu in College Spotlight; Knoll's Suspension

During my two weeks at the International Spring Championships and the Easter Bowl, I fall behind in reporting college tennis news, although there are always former college players and current college coaches around at one tournament or the other (the NCAA dead period, which does not allow any in-person contact or evaluation, was April 11-14 this year) who are interested in talking about the upcoming NCAA championships.

This year there was plenty of talk about the Campbell/ITA rankings, which saw Florida take the top spot back from Stanford on the women's side last week, even though the Cardinal are still undefeated this season. Stanford regained the No. 1 spot in today's rankings, after defeating then No. 9 Cal-Berkeley 5-2 on Saturday. their last dual match before the first round of the NCAAs on May 14th. There is a more detailed explanation of the tug of war for the women's top spot in the ITA's weekly ranking release, which suggests to me they know college tennis fans are confused by the process.

Stanford will play an exhibition match against the USTA National Junior team on Friday, and that could prove very competitive given the roster that USTA National Coach Kathy Rinaldi has assembled. Expected to travel to the Bay area for matches against Cal (Thursday) and Stanford are: Krista Hardebeck, Gabby Andrews, Taylor Townsend, Mia King, Jennifer Brady, Caroline Doyle, Yuki Chiang and Alyssa Smith.

In the men's rankings, Tennessee's 4-3 win over Georgia in Athens helped them reclaim the No. 2 spot behind undefeated Virginia, and there is a chance the Volunteers and Bulldogs could meet again in the final of the SEC tournament. The Pac-10 doesn't have a team conference tournament, just an individual one in Ojai, so two-time defending champion USC's opportunity to move back up to No. 2 before the NCAAs may hinge on the UCLA match on Friday. The Bruins, who are hosting the Trojans, beat Pepperdine 4-3 last Tuesday, with that win helping boost them to No. 9 in today's rankings.

In the individual rankings, Steve Johnson of USC stays at No. 1 in singles, and Tennessee's Boris Conkic and JP Smith remain at No. 1 in doubles. Virginia's Alex Domijan, who is No. 2, was the subject of this feature in Charlottesville's The Daily Progress.

In the women's rankings, USC's Maria Sanchez has fallen to No. 2 behind 2010 NCAA finalist Jana Juricova of Cal-Berkeley. Juricova and partner Mari Andersson, the 2009 NCAA champions, are No. 1 in doubles.

Complete rankings are available at the ITA website.

I've also fallen behind in my College Spotlight postings. The USTA featured Daniel Nguyen of USC and Connie Hsu of Penn this month.

For those of you who missed the tweet last week, Baylor head coach Matt Knoll was suspended for the Oklahoma dual match, (which Baylor won 4-3 on Saturday) for his conduct in the dual match with Texas on April 6 (Baylor won that match 4-3). The Big 12 conference released this statement on Knoll's suspension.