Johnson, Juricova Named Campbell/ITA Players of the Year; Wall Street Journal on D III; Women's Kickoff Weekend Won't Include Florida and Stanford
There wasn't much suspense in the selection of the Campbell/ITA Players of the Year, with Cal's Jana Juricova and USC's Steve Johnson, the NCAA champions and top-ranked players officially named today. For the complete release, see the ITA website.
Speaking of Johnson, a reader brought to my attention yesterday the fact that Johnson's 35-match winning streak is a collegiate one, so it is not extended by his wins in Futures competition. Johnson, who lost in the first round of qualifying at the BNP Paribas Open in Indian Wells in March (to Canadian Frank Dancevic) beat Alexandre Lacroix today 6-3, 6-3 at the Sacramento Futures, to set up a quarterfinal meeting Friday with top seed Philip Bester of Canada. Dan Kosakowski and Guillermo Gomez, who also competed in the NCAA individual tournament last month, are through to the quarterfinals as well. Johnson and Lacroix will meet again in the doubles semifinals, with Johnson partnering Texas grad Ed Corrie and Lacroix with teammate Sekou Bangoura, Jr.
For complete results, see the Pro Circuit results page at usta.com.
Back while I was in the midst of 16-hour days at the NCAAs, the Wall Street Journal published this piece about Division III athletic prowess in non-revenue sports. Washington University, Emory and Claremont-Mudd-Scripps are among the schools mentioned in tennis, with Dillon Pottish and Warren Wood given as examples of Top 100 national players who chose Division III. The most thought-provoking paragraph for me is this one:
The growing potency of D-III teams is being felt most acutely in men's tennis. As the D-III men's championships got under way last week, coaches and players say (and the results suggest) that the top men's D-III teams are now better than about half the teams in Division I, and can hang with all the D-I teams outside the top 50.I don't see Top 10 Division III men's tennis on a regular basis, nor do I see much D-I tennis outside the Top 50, so I can't really argue either side of this statement. But I'd like to see more examples of the results suggesting this is the case, if anyone can recall recent meetings between them. I know Western Michigan always beats Kalamazoo College when they play, but that's the extent of my basis for comparison.
The Women's ITA Kickoff Weekend draft took place today, and so many teams opted out that unranked teams got to bid. Not only did No. 1 Florida and No. 2 Stanford pass, which are obviously the most significant absences, but so did four other Top 40 teams, including Pepperdine(25), SMU(29), Long Beach State(36) and Cal Poly(39). There are probably as many reasons for this as there are schools declining the opportunity--budgets, schedules, academics among them, but it is disappointing for a college tennis fan.
From the draft, it looks as if no one wanted to go to Durham to play Duke's No. 1 recruiting class, as No. 64 Winthrop is the No. 2 seed in that group. Baylor also attracted a very weak field with No. 66 UT-Arlington their second seed. Of course, these numbers are this year's rankings, and a lot can happen in the next eight months to change the perception of the regionals' strengths.
For the complete breakdown of who is going where, see the ITA website.
And finally, I just came across this article announcing that former Vanderbilt star Julie Ditty is retiring, not from tennis, but from the professional tour. She has taken a position as Director of Tennis at the Bellefonte County Club in her home town of Ashland, Kentucky.