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Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Final Pre-NCAA Rankings Released; College Showcase at NCAAs; The Grim Economics of Playing Futures

The veil has been lifted, with the ITA's end-of-season rankings, originally scheduled for an April 30 release, but held back at the request of the NCAA national committee, available to the public today.

The committee did indeed place the No. 5 Stanford women in the top 4, despite USC finishing at No. 4 in the rankings, but that, like the flipping of Texas and Miami and Northwestern and Baylor is a result of a direct win by the lower-ranked team. Nebraska, at No. 17, missed out on hosting by .23  And the committee moved No. 33 Arkansas into a 17-32 position over No. 32 TCU, presumably on the basis of the strength of their conference strength, as there was no direct win involved. LSU, at No. 43, was the last at-large team selected and they were a mere .05 ahead of the University of South Florida, at 44.

In the women's individual seedings, the top 16 in the rankings were all seeded, with defending champion Jana Juricova's move from 6 to 8 the only deviation from the rankings. Since that is within the 5-8 group, it's not a big deal.  It's interesting to note that the Indoor champion, Marta Lesniak of SMU, is still 10 in the rankings, even though she graduated and left school at the end of last year. The final at-large bid appears to have gone to Duke's Hanna Mar at No. 59.  The alternate list never seems to follow ranking order, so I won't even attempt to figure that out. The lowest ranked player in the draw will be South Carolina State's Maria Cracuin, the Mid-Eastern conference's automatic qualifier. She is 120.

In the men's team rankings, Virginia is indeed No. 2 in the rankings, but as we learned last week, they were given the No. 3 seed. If there are no upsets in the first two rounds, No. 2 plays No. 3 in the semifinals, so the wisdom of that change should be decided on the court, but with no head-to-head this year, I'm not sure there's a compelling argument to re-order those two. Georgia lost to USC; Virginia's only loss was to Ohio State. Georgia also fell to Kentucky for its only other loss of the year.

I can't recall when I've seen a tie in the rankings, especially this late in the year, but Tennessee and Auburn ended in a dead heat at No. 17. This made sticking to the top 16 for hosting an easy choice. There was a change in the 17-32 category, with No. 31 Memphis bumped down to the 33-48 block, while No. 33 Florida State moved up to 17-32.

The committee actually had no decision to make at all in the Mitchell Frank vs. Steve Johnson question. Johnson vaulted over Frank in the final rankings, probably due to his win over Nick Meister in the Ojai team championship match, and the committee just went in order for the top 8 seeds.  The last at-large player in appears to be Georgia Tech's Juan Spir, also at No. 59. The men's alternate list does go in ranking order. The player with the lowest ranking in the field is Radford's Nick Sayer, at 120. He is the Big South's automatic qualifier.

The USTA is again hosting a college information day at the NCAAs and it will again include a ticket to the quarterfinal matches on Sunday, May 20th.  I will be one of the panelists, and for a partial list, please see this item on usta.com.  Elissa Hill and Erica Perkins Jasper of the USTA Player Development staff, both former college coaches themselves, will likely add a coach or two from those in Athens for the tournament.  I attended last year's session and wrote about it for the Tennis Recruiting Network, and if you are a player interested in college tennis (and not just D-I) or the parent of one, and are in the area, sign up, attend the meeting and then stay for the tennis.

Randy Walker posted an interesting article today over at World Tennis on the economics of the $10,000 Futures tournament recently concluded in Vero Beach, Fla. I've long been dismayed by the failure of the prize money in Futures event to even keep up with inflation, and yet they still fill the draws, so I guess the demand is there, with ATP ranking points the currency that really matters.   It's plainly not the money, with JP Smith, who swept both titles, collecting a grand total of $1615.  It's interesting to note that private housing is a perfectly acceptable practice on this level of ITF play, but the ITF doesn't allow it for juniors.

Walker also delves into the cost of umpires, which is a substantial expense for any tournament, but I think he may under-emphasize the long hours they work. He certainly knows they aren't overpaid, and rather quite the opposite, yet compared to the players' situation, at least the work is steady.

Many a casual tennis fan (and a few local reporters) look at the $10,000 Vero Beach Futures and assume that's the winner's take. It no wonder that Open tournaments and European Club competition remain viable, even when there are no ATP ranking points at stake.
For a look at the European Club system, see this post from ATP professional Amir Weintraub of Israel.


wi tennis said...

Georgia did beat Ohio State, though. And Virginia lost to them. That might have been the comparison. Not sure it's the right move to flip them, but just saying that this might have been rationale.

Andy M said...

who puts up the prize money for Futures? USTA or sponsors?

Dan Nagler said...

With regard to the prize money for Futures, involvedfan.com exists specifically for the purpose of addressing the issues raised. The website informs the public about how hard financially it really is for any tennis player outside of the top-100, and allows fans to support the players by contributing with help for airfare, hotel, tournament entry fees, coaching costs, racket stringing and other expenses. Involvedfan.com was recently featured in ESPN The Magazine, on ESPN.com, and on WorldTennisMagazine.

Gregory said...

Again in Europe if you want to compete at a high level or professional feeder program/club tennis or soccer or basketball you need to be from the EU or your opportunities are severly limited. Yet in the US college coaches from D1 and D2 are giving o er balk their scholarships to foreign players who many times are just equal to local talent. In Texas with the exception of Texas over 60% of the players are international and many 100%. many Texas junior girls have to play out of state and then often play the same international girls and often win. We are killing junior tennis in Texas with many kids defecting to other sports due to lack of opportunities. Not saying right or wrong just stating facts.