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Monday, May 2, 2011

Undefeated Stanford Drops to Second in Final ITA Rankings; Northwestern Downs Michigan; Three of Four US Teams Advance to ITF World Finals

2010 NCAA champions, 2011 ITA Indoor champions, and the only undefeated team in Division I women's tennis this year, the Stanford Cardinal will start their title defense with a chip on their shoulder. In today's final ITA rankings prior to the NCAA regionals, which begin Friday, May 13th, Stanford was overtaken again by Florida. Stanford beat Florida in the final of the Team Indoor, the Gators only loss of the year, but that has no influence on the rankings. This year has provided consistent evidence that the ranking system is in need of an overhaul, with both undefeated teams from powerful conferences somehow relinquishing their No. 1 ranking while continuing to win. The Virginia men did finish the year where they belong, at No. 1, but I doubt Stanford is taking much consolation from that.

The NCAA women's selection show is Tuesday at 5:00 p.m. EDT via a livestream at NCAA.com; the men's selection show will follow at 5:30 p.m. The host sites will be announced at that time, and with the Illinois men moving up to 17 (and Pepperdine not participating due to their self-imposed ban), they have a chance to be selected as a host.

Northwestern women's coach Claire Pollard told me yesterday she didn't think her team had a chance to host a regional, even after beating Michigan, but the win boosted their ranking from 19 to 14, so they may indeed play at home in the first two rounds of the NCAAs.

For my article on their stirring comeback win over Michigan in the Big Ten Women's conference championship, see the Tennis Recruiting Network.

Steve Johnson of USC and Jana Juricova of Cal-Berkeley retained their spots at the top of the individual rankings. The individual participants in the NCAA tournament will be announced Wednesday.

For the complete rankings, see the ITA website.

In a couple of college-related profiles, Rhyne Williams of Tennessee talks about possibly turning pro after this year in this Knoxville News Sentinel article. It also mentions that Williams' younger sister Caitlin, who has signed to play for Tennessee this fall, recently had surgery to repair her rotator cuff.

Greg Hirschman of Stanford is the subject of this feature on gostanford.com. It is a part of their "Countdown to the Championships" series.

Mitchell Frank lost in the finals of the Vero Beach Futures Sunday, but winning eight matches in ten days had to be a big confidence boost for the University of Virginia recruit. It also got him a special exemption into this week's tournament in Orange Park, Fla. This tcpalm.com article has some details of the final, won by No. 4 seed Daniel Garza of Mexico in three sets. Don't listen to the tournament director however when he says Frank is the youngest finalist ever in the tournament. As I tweeted earlier today, Chase Buchanan won that tournament in 2008 as a 16-year-old.

In addition to the Orange Park Futures, there is a women's $50,000 tournament in Indian Harbour Beach Fla. and a $50,000 men's Challenger in Savannah, Ga. For draws, see the Pro Circuit page at usta.com.

The final results have not been posted at the ITF's new Team Competition page, but I've learned that the USA's Junior Fed Cup team and both World Junior Tennis 14-and-under teams qualified for the World Group competitions later this year. The Junior Davis Cup team finished second to Canada, and because Mexico automatically qualifies as the host for both the Junior Fed Cup and Junior Davis Cup 16-and-under world finals, the US boys will not be making the trip in September for the second consecutive year. The Canadian Junior Fed Cup team, a very strong one with Francoise Abanda and Carol Zhao, were denied in the same fashion as the US boys. They finished second to the US team of Gabrielle Andrews, Brooke Austin and Taylor Townsend, and so they did not qualify for the World Group.

The US 14-and-under teams both went undefeated, with Stefan Kozlov, Frances Tiafoe and Henrik Wiersholm assuring the US of a place in August's boys world competition in the Czech Republic. The team of Jessica Ho, Julia O'Loughlin and Maria Smith also made sure the US will get a chance to win its fifth straight world title in the girls competition.


fairplay said...

Undefeated, yet #2. Unbelievable, indeed. But maybe the chip is on Florida’s shoulder? After all, they are like a #1 player in the WTA who has never won a slam. Time to prove you deserve that #1 ranking, right?

What bothers me the most in all this is the secrecy surrounding the college ranking system. Why can ITA not simply publish the rules of the point system? What are they afraid of? Mistakes? This year ITA has felt obliged a few times to go out of its way to explain how it is possible that an undefeated team can end up being #2 behind one of the many teams it has defeated. Out of its way, but not all the way. Time to shed some light!

To my knowledge, players can calculate their points in Junior tennis as well as in the WTA, why not in college?

baffled said...

I completely agree with Fairplay!

I don't see the rankings system as an accurate representation of where teams or individuals are at all.

What bothers me the most is how guys who have barely played any matches all year can still be ranked in the top 125 in singles over other guys who have played and really deserve it.

Nick Meister of UCLA has been injured since early fall. He even took a injury redshirt this year, yet his singles ranking is in the 60s??
Guys like freshman Nelso Vick of Ohio St. Vick hasn't even been close to starting in most matches. You could probably count the number of matches he's been in during the fall and spring on one hand. And I doubt he won them all. So why in the world has he been ranked in top 125 all year??? I'm baffled!

colten said...

I agree with everything fairplay has to say. I don't understand how Florida overtakes Stanford in the rankings when neither of them played a match since the last rankings?

Eric Amend said...

This is absolutely ridiculous!!! This would NEVER happen in the college Football or Basketball rankings!! Our ranking system is a complete joke, and it makes college tennis look like a joke to outsiders!!

Stanford decides to play the ITA Indoor tournament this year for the first time in a long time and what did it get them for winning it, a backhand to the face!!

While stating the obvious, that Stanford should be ranked #1, ranking 75 teams so that a coach of a team, ranked between 26-75, can say that they were national ranked for recruiting purposes, is like giving a trophy to everyone that participates in a tournament, not just the winner and finalist!! Besides, who can tell a recruit that they are ranked #67, or #71, or #49, and still keep a straight face???

Our sport deserves better!!!!

Eric Amend said...



No more ranting!!

This reminds me of how the junior rankings were done 30-35 years ago here in Southern California. Not that it was a flawed system but they needed a way to determine how one player would deserve to be ranked ahead of another if the two players had not played against in that ranking year.
They looked at "indirect wins" that the players had as well as the direct wins. As kids, we would always compare to see who had better indirect wins.

That's exactly what this snubb of Stanford feels like; Florida's "indirect wins" are trumping Stanford's direct win over Florida. That's awful!!!!

Austin said...

I will hold my complaining, which is actually VERY minimal this year, until your post on the selections tomorrow. There are a couple bad ones, but for the most part the committee did a good job...although going almost strictly by rankings for the seeds is ridiculous.

5.0 Player said...

I agree with Fairplay, Baffled, Colten and Eric Amend about the rankings. The two most glaring and inexcusable examples are the ones that Baffled spelled out and that I also noticed regarding Nelson Vick and Nick Meister. Nothing short of an indefensible disgrace to make such obvious mistakes as these.

One thing we can count on is consistent incompetence by the USTA and the ITA for the years to come. They keep continuing to outdo their last screw up with a new one.