As I tweeted after No. 68 LSU's win over the No. 11 Texas A&M men last weekend, Division I college tennis is looking a lot like college basketball this year, with upsets the rule, not the exception.
I doubt there will be a bigger surprise than the Stanford women's home loss to St. Mary's last month, but there have been some shockers recently that rival it. One reason for this is the unreliability of the rankings at this stage of the season, but that's been the case for many years now, and I don't recall this much chaos.
The ITA now helpfully includes an Upset Central in their weekly releases, which includes any loss by a team in the Top 25. As you can see, there were several major ones, including unranked Boise State men beating Notre Dame and unranked San Diego women beating No. 6 Nebraska. Indiana's win over Duke was equally unexpected, although Duke was down to five players, with Monica Turewicz out for the season with an Achilles injury. Today Duke announced that Nicole Lipp, who played high school tennis, but was on the Duke soccer team, has been added to the roster. She is the older sister of Madeline Lipp, who has committed to Northwestern for this fall.
It should be said that upsets have been nonexistent at the very top of the men's rankings, where Virginia, UCLA and USC are lodged. Here are the ITA Top Ten:
5. Ohio State
1. North Carolina
3. Texas A&M
Granger Huntress of the Texas College Tennis blog has just begun publishing his own rankings for this season, and there are some major differences to be contemplated. Most notable is Texas A&M women at No. 1 and ITA No. 13 Cal women much higher at 7. On the men's side, Pepperdine is at 5, not the ITA's 11, Kentucky is at 8, not 4, and Cal is at 14, not 24. It is also helpful that he's put the win/loss records out there, as the ITA doesn't do that.
The complete ITA rankings can be found here. There were no individual rankings released this week. Last week, Lauren Embree of Florida and Alex Domijan of Virginia remained at the No. 1 spots.
The Blue Gray National Tennis Classic was this weekend, with Boise State and Virginia claiming the titles in Montgomery. Boise State beat Texas Tech 4-3 in the men's final, and Virginia downed Tulane 4-1 in the women's final.
And in one last college tennis note, in Mobile, I had the opportunity to speak with Harvard recruit Spencer Liang about how she navigated the recruiting process and about her Talbert sportsmanship award. This article, posted last Friday at the Tennis Recruiting Network, provides hope for those who do want to take their official visits and wait until they are seniors to make their decision. Tennis Recruiting has begun their countdown to their April 15 signing week coverage, and I will be providing a look at Kalamazoo blue chip Paul Oosterbaan's choice of Georgia at the end of this month.
Qualifying was completed today at the Sony Open, with six Americans making the main draw: Rajeev Ram(8), Tim Smyczek(10) and wild card Robby Ginepri, who beat Jack Sock 6-4, 6-4, Bethanie Mattek-Sands, Allie Kiick and Mallory Burdette.
Kiick, who has won two $10,000 Pro Circuit events, including one earlier this month, has never been beyond the quarterfinals at ITF Women's event above that level. But after her 6-4, 0-6, 6-3 win over Vania King, in which she won the last five games of the match, Kiick will be making her WTA debut Wednesday against fellow teen Madison Keys, who received a wild card into the main draw.
Burdette didn't finish her first round qualifying match until after midnight Monday and her fitness will surely be tested in her match against Magdalena Rybarikova of Slovakia on Wednesday after she needed three hours and 15 minutes to beat Lauren Davis 6-7(0), 6-4, 6-4 this afternoon. Every game seemed to go to multiple deuces, and the only non-competitive game was the first set tiebreaker. Davis saved two match points at 3-5 in the third in a six-deuce game and one more in the next game, but Burdette managed to avoid a deuce in the final game, winning it on her fourth match point at 40-30.
The Czech Republic's Katerina Siniakova, the ITF's No. 2 ranked junior, qualified with a 6-4, 6-3 win over Alex Glatch, and will play wild card Garbine Muguruza of Spain Wednesday. Until yesterday, Siniakova had never played above the ITF Women's Circuit $10,000 level.
Wild card Monica Puig will face Mattek-Sands, wild card Eugenie Bouchard plays qualifier Shahar Peer of Israel and in an intriguing still-eligible-for-juniors battle, qualifiers Donna Vekic of Croatia and Yulia Putintseva of Kazakhstan will square off Wednesday evening.
Not all of the men's qualifiers play Wednesday. Smyczek will play fellow qualifier Dmitry Tursunov of Russia, and Ram drew Belgium's Xavier Malisse, both on Wednesday's schedule. Ginepri faces Taiwan's Yen-Hsun Lu, probably on Thursday.
The complete order of play for Wednesday can be found here.