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Thursday, June 9, 2011

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.


Watch the worldplay said...

Completely inaccurate,

You can't go saying that about D3 tennis even though it has gotten better but to say something like the top 20 in D3 could start on D-1 teams is realistic. But your telling me Amherst or a Claremont could win the doubles point from a Northwestern or a South Carolina(who isn't even ranked). Not true. They would lose if not a shutout 6-1. Its just like the article from Roland Garros where they said Bjorn could be a top 50 player, you can't just go throwing around phrases like that as a writer without full knowledge of the subject in hand. Would like to hear your thoughts Collette. Take Emory, could they compete with South Carolina,TCU, Clemson, NC State, Wisconsin, Arizona....the list goes on....sheesh I mean they couldn't even hang with the Ivies like a Dartmouth or Harvard.

tennis lover said...

It is rediculous to say that D1 top 60 is tough and you can take the #1 team in D3 and there is no way. They would take a beating. Look at a team like yale they get blue chips all the time they are not good at all. Scripts would get spanked by any team inside the top 75

Brent said...

The only reason Western is beating Kzoo on a regular basis is because of how down Kzoo has been. When Kzoo was perpetually top 5, I think the opposite was true.

I don't know about the statement made on D3 versus D1 other than to say I think it's fair that the distance between lower D1 and upper D3 in tennis is much smaller than it is most other sports (i.e. football or basketball)

Anonymous said...

emory beat georgetown this year 5-2, chicago beat dayton 7-0,

Rob said...

First of all, congrats to JP Smith and Boris Conkic on getting ITA national dbls team of the year at 22-2 for the spring. Both are great players and great young men and had an excellent year at TN. Not to sound like sour grapes, because it is not, but Austin Krajicek and Jeff Dadamo went 37-3 in the spring, won the NCAA dbls in Palo Alto, and the ITA Indoors in NYC in the fall, so two back to back National championships and aren't the dbls team of the year? I am a little confused.

Smith and Conkic lost in the rnd of 16 in Palo Alto. Certainly, one tournament does not make or break a season, and I don't take anything away from their great season, but come on...

Interested said...

Anyone know what's happening with Jack Sock? Seems like he finished HS a couple weeks ago, but don't see him on lists for any upcoming Futures.
Who is he now being coached by?

Austin said...

Julie Ditty & Paul Goldstein should have gotten married. Their child would be the best Pro Circuit player in the history of the world!

work-hard-tennis said...

Julie Ditty was an inspiration. I wish she wasn't stopping, but I really appreciate how she made her splurge in the recent years.

Watching the 2 30-year-old women duke it out in the French Open was also pretty inspirational. Guess those men who say that girls are past their prime if they don't peak at 17, might not know what they are talking about.

Good luck to her.

love-tennis said...

I am glad Juricova won the singles and the player of the year. I did feel sorry for her losing to Chelsey Gullickson in the team event, when she'd been up 4-1 in the 3rd, when the match was tied at 3-3.

So if she had the choice (can only choose one) , would she have finished off Chelsey in the team event (allowing Cal-Berkeley to advance), or kept the individual title? Your team or you? The age-old question....

What's her answer in 30 years when she remembers back? Same answer?

Austin said...


Just my guess, but I get if it was in the finals, or maybe semifinals, she would say team, but since it wasnt I would guess individual, 30yrs from now speaking of course.

AR Hacked Off said...

I will disagree with the WSJ article. There is still a large gap team wise between DIII and D1 Men. Yes there are a few players in DII who would play Top 3 at a D1 school but depth is what counts. Looking at several of the teams in the Top 15 DIII, they had losses to D2 and NAIA schools. Yes the talent is much better and I have been impressed with the level of several of the matches I saw in person, but realistically these teams would beat maybe 1/3 of the D1 teams, which mainly are the ones where tennis is an after thought. Put them against a Top 25 D2 or a D1 team just outside of the Top 75 and it would be a shellacking to the tune of 5-2 or 6-1.

love-tennis said...

With the NBA finals going on, it reminds me of that late night match. It was incredibly exciting. Chelsey was Dirk Nowitski, turning it on as soon as the crowd came over (after Kate Fuller had just pulled hers off to even it up).

Jana was more of what happened (?--sorry Lebron) to Lebron James in the 4th quarter. Chelsey only got stronger with more of a crowd in the very tight situation.

But maybe Lebron will turn it around like Jana did!

NE said...

Living in the Northeast, I ocassionally get to see NESCAC schools play. I have to agree with others that the Wall Street article is inaccurate- a top 60 DI would handily beat best D3 teams. Just to provide an example, number 1 from Amherst, a school that just won National Champioship, (Rattenhuber) transferred, I believe, from San Diego State (ranked around top 50 in DI) where he played in the bottom of the lineup and had mixed results. Having said that, I am sure best D3 schools would have no problems beating small D1 schools that don't get good domestic or international recruits.

On another note, I was also surprised to see Dadamo and Krajicek not finish number one. Not to take anything away from JP Smith and Boris Conkic, they are certainly a great team, but come one, Texas A&M guys won last 2 college majors and had a great record in the spring!

give me a break said...

last time i checked, georgetown and dayton are not pulling in big time recruits, so while they are D1, they are RARELY, if EVER close to being ranked inside the top 75. the WSJ article could not be more off base. Maybe the best 5 players in D3 could start at good D1 schools, MAYBE, start. And those same 5 possibly start top 3 in very low ranked or unranked teams, POSSIBLY. maybe the WSJ shouldve left tennis out of the article because anybody who has played or watched D1 and D3 tennis knows this is absolutely false.

Eric Amend said...

In terms of comparing D1 to D3 tennis, this article is a complete fluff piece that shouldn't have seen the light of day (or laptop screen)!! I'll go over a few statements that are utterly ridiculous, as well as show where the authors, at best, confuse the reader and, at worst, contradict themselves in the span of a few paragraphs. Also, hidden beneath their theme of the article is what I feel that the true theme should be about; hedging your bets so that you don't have to sit on the bench, and, at the same time, playing with less pressure.

Now, understand that my thoughts are not intended to be all encompassing to everyone that has chosen the D3 route, and, in some instances, I have much more respect for the D3 player who wants to play every match versus the D1 #9-16 squad players that never/will never see the court on match day, but, if those #9-16 players had a better sense of their true ability, could have played in the line-up of an unranked D1 team or, on a D2 or D3 team.

"As schools rush to comply with Title IX, men's D-I tennis teams usually only have about four scholarships per team, or fewer, while women's teams generally have twice as many."
(The authors are inexplicably vague here instead of stating that Men's D1 teams have 4.5 scholarships while the women have 8, or whatever the specifics might be in D1 tennis. "Usually", "about", and "generally" are words that shouldn't have been used when describing the number of scholarships a D1 school has to offer potential players. Also, they completely neglect to mention the roster size of a tennis team, which is annoyingly inconsistent since they are very specific about lacrosse having "12.6 scholarships per team on a roster of about 45"; it's either shoddy research or lack of commitment to being thorough, which is foretelling to the entire article in general!!)

"With fewer scholarships, talented athletes who would have gone with the tuition subsidy in years past are now free to go wherever they want"(This is pure conjecture to substantiate their theme because the logic behind that statement is NOT why players are going the D3 route at all, or at least it shouldn't have been. Talented athletes have ALWAYS been able to "go to school wherever they wanted" (D1, D2, or D3), and no circumstances forced them to choose the "tuition subsidy" route in the past that isn't just as prevalent for today's circumstances; it's still, and always will be, about the cost. PLUS, we live in a free society so…. what changed to release these players from the shackles of the D1 route??)"and in may[sic] cases they're choosing the better school with less athletic pressure" ("Less athletic pressure" is the what this article should be about in terms of collegiate tennis, hence one of the true reasons why some juniors are opting for D3 over D1, because, as stated in their article, D3 players spend less time on the practice court which equates to lower expectations and less pressure. Also, some players would rather know for certain that they will be in the starting line-up of a D3 team versus playing lower in the line-up, or not at all, of a Top 40 D1 team) "even if it might cost them a lot more in tuition." (Remember this line, because this is where the contradictions start!!)

Eric Amend said...

"But in many of these lower-profile [D1] sports, the scholarships are only partial, meaning they cover a fraction of the total tuition bill." Wait a minute... Hold on here… didn't you just say in the previous paragraph that "in may[sic] cases they're choosing the better school [D3] with less athletic pressure, even if it might cost them a lot more in tuition"??
So, if that's true, then only "covering a fraction of the total tuition bill" in D1 CANNOT be a reason for recruits to go to a D3 school because you just stated that "they" are willing to pay more to go to said D3 school!! So... which one is it?? Cause you can't have it both ways!! (Confusing and/or contradictory to say the least!!)
On another note, collegiate baseball doesn't seem like a "lower-profile sport" to me but a D1 school that I know of, for my point of reference, doesn't have more than 10 scholarships, yet still has a roster of 35 players. If this is the norm throughout the country, then it would appear to me that most D1 baseball players are only receiving partial scholarships as well. If that's the case, then it would be safe for me to say that only football and basketball players are receiving "more than a partial" which would then mean that most athletes attending a D1 school are in the same boat, financially, as the kids going to the D3 schools, which refutes their confusing stance on costs between the two divisions.

"In most cases, playing in Division I also requires students to make a much larger commitment of time to practices and the like." This is an awful, yet truthfully revealing, sentence about many of the current generation of junior tennis players, and apparently it's columnists, that compares working harder/more in D1, to working less in D3 as being a positive.
Even the way that it's written... "a much larger commitment of time to practices and the like" is dripping with contemptuous cynicism that reads "Like... why would you want to work harder in D1, when you can work less in D3?? OR, Like... why would I want to elaborate on this sentence/thought any more, even though it's a major reason D1 tennis players are better than D3 players, AND, because it won't advance the theme of my article so, I'll just end it with, "and the like".... which again speaks volumes about the authors commitment to thoroughness!! While it may be true that a D1 tennis player spends more time on the practice court/weight room, that's a major reason why they are an athlete at a D1 school in the first place!!! Crazy logic on my part, I know.

Here's the ultimate contradiction of the entire article Lacrosse is a good example. Because Division I schools are limited to 12.6 men's scholarships per team (on rosters that generally have about 45 players), players often get only one-third or a quarter of their schooling paid for—which can make a lower-cost Division III team a better deal. Here we go again with the statement "D3 is a better financial deal than D1" which directly contradicts their previous statement of "they're choosing the better school with less athletic pressure, even if it might cost them a lot more in tuition." I mean their logic has me seething…. and I've only barely mentioned the subject of whether or not a top D3 tennis team can compete with a lower D1 team. Don't get me started on that... haha!!

So... it's my feeling that the authors were trying to make an issue out of a non-issue and, in the process, exposed themselves as less than a credible source on the topic of collegiate tennis and their article would have been better served to leave tennis out of it entirely because their premise doesn't hold up!!

Middlebury said...

MIddlebury's Mens team--the 2010 NCAA D3 champions--would for sure have been top 75. Playing number 4 singles for them was Andrew Thomson; he was a top 100 player in juniors, but was also ranked number 1 in 18's in dubs, with a semifinal finish at winters and a quarterfinal result at Kzoo. Playing 3 was Conrad Olson, a top junior in Belgium and a semifinalist at D3 individuals in 2009. The 2 singles player was Andrew Lee--the top player from Minnesota in juniors (he beat Jonathan Wolf his final year of 18's, and had a close match with Justin Kronauge in the third round of Winters that year). And the number 1 singles player was Andrew Peters; among other results, he won the dartmouth ITA summer event last year (Frank Carleton was the number 1 seed in that tournament).