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.