North Carolina Women, Virginia Men Remain No. 1 in First ITA Computer Rankings; Omaha as Permanent NCAA Tournament Site?; Blake on Playing College Tennis
The season's first computer-generated ITA Division I rankings came out today and there were no changes at the top, with the North Carolina women holding a substantial lead over new No. 2 Duke, and the Virginia men keeping well ahead of No. 2 USC and No. 3 UCLA, both of whom retained their positions.
The margin separating the Trojans and the Bruins is .27 of a point, which is an accurate depiction of just how closely matched the two teams are, with each winning a dual from the other by taking a third-set tiebreaker in the last match on. Ohio State fell from 4 to 7, with Duke moving up to the No. 4 spot.
The men's Top 10:
7. Ohio State
10. Mississippi State
The women's Top 10:
1. North Carolina
6. Texas A&M
It's too early to make any statements about the quality of the teams or of the rankings, but it is strange to see all four Stanford and Baylor teams so far down the lists. The Stanford women are 26th and the Stanford men are 41st. The Baylor women are 24th and the Baylor men are 26th. The Auburn women made a huge leap from 59 to 17 after a win over Texas Tech, and it's the first time since 1996 that they've been in the Top 25. Cornell was the big mover on the men's side, going from 63 to 24, despite not playing last week.
There's a new No. 1 in the women's rankings, but hardly a surprising one, with Florida's Lauren Embree taking the top spot, just edging out Robin Anderson of UCLA. Alex Domijan of Virginia remains No. 1 in the men's rankings by a wide margin over Peter Kobelt of Ohio State. And yes, the top two players in the country play No. 2 in their teams' lineups. It should be noted that the Buckeye No. 1 Blaz Rola, who took the fall off, has gone from no ranking to No. 17 this week. The top doubles teams are USC's Sabrina Santamaria and Kaitlyn Christian and Auburn's Daniel Cochrane and Andreas Mies.
The women's singles Top 10:
1. Lauren Embree, Florida
2. Robin Anderson, UCLA
3. Sabrina Santamaria, USC
4. Gina Suarez-Malaguti, North Carolina
5. Zsofi Susanyi, Cal
6. Cristina Sanchez-Quintanar, Texas A&M
7. Danielle Lao, USC
8. Anett Schutting, Cal
9. Lauren Herring, Georgia
10. Julia Elbaba, Virginia
The men's singles Top 10:
1. Alex Domijan, Virginia
2. Peter Kobelt, Ohio State
3. Jarmere Jenkins, Virginia
4. Emilio Gomez, USC
5. Jonas Lutjen, Ole Miss
6. Matija Pecotic, Princeton
7. Sebastian Fanselow, Pepperdine
8. Mac Styslinger, Virginia
9. Henrique Cunha, Duke
10. Marcos Giron, UCLA
The complete rankings can be found at the ITA website.
An article last week in the Omaha World Herald brings out in the open a rumor that has been circulating for months in college tennis circles: the city is interested in becoming a permanent host for the NCAA Division I men's and women's tennis tournaments. The Omaha Multi-Sport Complex organization is building an Olympic-sized swimming pool and included in the plans are a tennis facility with 18-24 outdoor and 6-12 indoor courts.
This project is obviously in its early stages, with the site not even selected yet, and there is no commitment from the NCAA, who currently takes bids for the tournament and selects a host school. The mention of the Indoor tournaments is a bit confused, because the NCAA is not involved at all in those tournaments; they are administered by the Intercollegiate Tennis Association. They would certainly need 12 indoor courts to host the Division I tournaments, which feature 16 teams over four days.
I've never been to Omaha, which is the longtime site of the NCAA College World Series, so I don't have an opinion on its suitability for tennis. I do know the move of the USTA/ITA Indoor Intercollegiate Championships to the Bille Jean King Tennis Center in New York has been popular with players and coaches, with both the facility and its proximity to all the attractions of New York, including the airport, a big part of its appeal. Omaha would have to come up with its own reasons for being a desirable destination, but they've proven to be able to do that with college baseball.
Sandra Harwitt is covering the Delray Beach ATP event, and she spoke to James Blake after his loss to Ernests Gulbis today for TenniShorts.com. He gives advice about playing college tennis, and although I don't agree with him that if you dominate college tennis you wouldn't be dominating in Futures--I think the levels are similar--he does offer some practical advice about making the decision based on his experience and the experience of his ATP contemporaries.