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Friday, May 11, 2012

My Picks for NCAA Champions; Women's First Round Produces a Quartet of Surprises; Min into Raleigh $25K Semis

Part II of the Tennis Recruiting Network's annual NCAA Division I roundtable was published this morning, and the final question is always, 'who will win?'

I don't like making predictions, probably because I'm not good at it, but I always play along with Tennis Recruiting and I'm always wrong. I consider it a good year if the team I pick makes the finals. The weird thing about my abysmal record is that I almost always pick the favorites. This year I go with both defending champions: the USC men, who are the No. 1 seeds, and the Florida women, who are seeded 2.  My dark horses are the Kentucky men and Cal women.

To demonstrate just how off base my predictions can be, you need look no farther than my first answer in the Roundtable. Two of the women's teams that I said I wouldn't be surprised to see in Athens--Illinois and Texas Tech--lost in the first round. Illinois was beaten by Rice 4-3 in the regional hosted by Ole Miss, and Texas Tech lost 4-3 to Utah in the Miami regional. Rice and Utah were in the 33-48 group, while Illinois and Texas Tech were slotted in the 17-32 category. It was the first win in the NCAA tournament for both Rice and Utah.

There were two other wins by 33-48 teams: Long Beach State shut out Arkansas at UCLA, and Pepperdine defeated Purdue 4-0 at Cal.  There were no colossal upsets, which would have been a 49-64 category team beating a 1-16 seed.

For the complete updated bracket, see ncaa.com.

There were ten matches played today in the men's first round, and there were no upsets of any kind. Auburn needed four hours to beat Drake 4-2 and earn a regional final shot at host Illinois. Baylor lost the doubles point, but came back to beat Memphis 4-2, and will play Mississippi State in Saturday's regional final. In Lexington, Kentucky will play Indiana, and in Malibu, Pepperdine will face Washington in their regional finals. In Norman, Oklahoma and Tulsa will face off again. Last year Tulsa, in the 33-48 category, upset both Oklahoma and Texas on the road to make the final 16. SMU, also in that third tier, did the same on the women's side, and they were the two big surprises in 2011.

The men's updated bracket is here.

On Saturday, I will be heading to Ann Arbor for the regional final there between No. 15 seed Michigan and Texas A&M, ranked 19th. Texas A&M got by LSU, the last at-large team selected, 4-1, while Michigan breezed by Illinois-Chicago 4-0.  I will be tweeting, with a full account of the match available early next week at Tennis Recruiting Network.  Speaking of twitter, follow @NCAAtennis2012 to keep up-to-date on all of the regionals.

For links to all the regional sites, see the Texas College Tennis blog.

At the $25,000 women's Pro Circuit event in Raleigh, Grace Min increased her winning streak to eight, beating top seed Olivia Rogowska of Australia 6-3, 6-2 to reach the semfinals. Min, the No. 5 seed, will play No. 4 seed Heidi El Tabkh of Canada Saturday. Beatrice Capra, who reached the quarterfinals in Raleigh and did not play in Duke's easy NCAA first round win over Winthrop this afternoon, lost to El Tabkh this morning 6-3, 6-3.

For results, see the Pro Circuit page at usta.com.

At the men's $10,000 Futures in Orange Park, Fla., No. 3 seed Tennys Sandgren will play qualifier Reid Carleton in one semifinal, with No. 4 seed Greg Ouellette taking on top seed Gerald Melzer of Austria in the other. Melzer beat Christian Harrison 7-5, 6-3 in today's quarterfinals.

The men's Pro Circuit results are available here.