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Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Florida Women Vault to No. 2 in ITA Rankings; Andrews in College Spotlight; Pegula Qualifies at Indian Wells; Stephens Feature

The defending NCAA champion Florida women picked up two SEC victories over the weekend, beating then No. 5 Tennessee and No. 4 Georgia. With those two wins, the Gators have gone from No. 15 to No. 2 in this week's ITA women's rankings, although they still trail No. 1 UCLA by a substantial margin. Stanford, previously No. 11, moved to No. 5, helped by their win over then No. 7 Cal. Texas A&M also made a significant move, going from 23 to 15. The Top 25 are below:

USC and Ohio State remained 1 and 2 in the men's rankings this week, with Virginia moving into third and UCLA falling to fourth. The University of Washington went from 24 to 13, and Ole Miss leaped from 44 to 16. Indiana is now the second-highest ranked Big 10 team at 18, with Illinois and Michigan at 20 and 24.

Mississippi State is one of the best teams not to have made it to the Team Indoors last month, and today they gave Virginia all they could handle before falling 4-3. The match came down to No. 1 singles, with Cavalier Jarmere Jenkins down a break at 4-3 in the third, winning the final three games of his match with Artem Ilyushin to seal the win. Virginia, who did not have Drew Courtney in the lineup today, plays Ole Miss on Wednesday. The Top 25 is below, and it's always strange when Baylor is missing, with the Bears now ranked 38.

The complete list of rankings can be found at the ITA website.

Nick Andrews of Cal is the subject of this edition of the USTA's College Spotlight, and he explains what makes the Napa Classic so special, what it's like to grow up in a family centered around tennis, and his goals for this year and beyond. Of particular interest is Andrews' admission that he did not receive a scholarship offer from the Bears in his freshman year, but was determined to attend Cal, eventually earned a scholarship, and is now playing No. 1.

The women's qualifying is winding down at the BNP Paribas Open in Indian Wells, and 18-year-old Jessica Pegula has reached the main draw with her win today. Ranked 3-5, Pegula, who had not beaten a top 150 player in her career, beat two of them on back-to-back days, defeating Bojana Jovanovski of Serbia and Paula Ormaechea of Argentina today.

Pegula, who lost to Madison Keys in the final of the pre-qualifying on Sunday, received a wild card despite that loss, and now has earned her way into the main draw of a WTA event for the first time because of it.

The women's draw was revealed yesterday, the men's today, and there are plenty of young Americans in both. Christina McHale is seeded at a WTA Premier event for the first time, at 32, so she has an opening round bye. Wild card Lauren Davis plays Petra Martic of Croatia in the first round, wild card Irina Falconi (who is writing her always entertaining blog again, this time for the WTA) plays Alexandra Dulgheru of Romania and Sloane Stephens, also a wild card, has drawn a qualifier. Stephens is the subject of this feature by Bobby Chintapalli for USA Today, and it is a perceptive look at why so many believe Stephens is destined for big things.

The men's draw came out this evening, with Ryan Harrison drawing Flavio Cipolla of Italy in the first round, and wild cards Denis Kudla and Jack Sock drawing Dmitry Tursunov of Russia and Santiago Giraldo of Colombia respectively.

The qualifying and main draws can be found at the tournament website.