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Tuesday, March 19, 2013

College Update; Kiick, Siniakova, Burdette Qualify for Sony Open; Liang Profile

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:

1. Virginia
3. USC
4. Kentucky
5. Ohio State
6. Georgia
7. Mississippi
8. Duke
9. Tennessee
10. Oklahoma

1. North Carolina
2. Florida
3. Texas A&M
5. Georgia
6. USC
7. Duke
8. Alabama
9. Michigan
10. Miami

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.


wildcards said...

great to see Ginepri back at the Sony after a long layoff and working his way back from Futures.

Jack Sock fails to qualify again for an ATP event. Hope he continues to have to qualify and not be given the golden spoon. Embarrassing that Christian Harrison got one.

Rhyne Williams deserved his wildcard into the main draw in Miami.

Austin said...

Ridiculous that Duke put themselves in that situation to begin with. Women teams have no excuse for allowing this to happen. Men only have 4.5 scholorships and I never hear about it happening with them, but it seems to happen with the women a lot.

Austin said...

Sock did beat the #108 player in the world, so he didn't play terrible in qualifying.

college fan said...

Any chance you can expound on Austin's comments? You do hear of women's matches where one team forfeits points. Yet, you never hear about it in men's tennis. Does it have more to do with the "headcount" requirements for women? I know all the girls have full scholarships, but is it that these teams don't have (or want) more than 8 players. It's a shame that, with so much more scholarship money available for women (than men), this issue happens for women.

college fan said...

Congrats to Mallory Burdette for qualfying . . . again! She was ranked #104 coming into this week and is on the verge of the top 100. She should be able to get in the Main Draws of the rest of the Grand Slams this year! An impressive start!

Colette Lewis said...

Perhaps it is a have/have not situation. I think it is a lot to ask of a walk-on to devote the same amount of time and effort and receive zero for it compared to everyone else on the team. Most men on a team have at least some % of scholarship dollars, which even if small, is important to their status as a student-athlete.

Impressive Dores said...

Wow Vanderbilt Men's team is looking almost as good as their football team is! way to go!

love-tennis said...


Does the Lipp girl have full eligibility for tennis for the future? Let's just say she took another year to graduate. Could she also play next year too if she did well?

I think you are right about giving over $100,000.00 /year of scholarship to the 8 ladies and then having the walk-on person get zero & sit around so much of the time. It's a lot of hard work for no scholarship and then hardly getting to play. Whereas the boys don't get much to start with.

*Look at Notre Dame men's team; they have 15 on the roster.

Arrogant/Incompetent College Coaches said...

Let me just say that if I was the Athletic Director at some of these schools where the tennis coach is so incompetent that they end up having to recruit intramural or club players at the school to fill their varsity lineup in the middle of the season, I would strongly consider firing the tennis coach. This is simply inexcusable and often a symptom of arrogance where the coach had previously turned away solid players that they didn't think were “elite” enough for them to be on their precious roster or they treated existing players like garbage which encouraged the players to quit the team.

Perhaps there are unusual circumstances in some instances where 4 players get injured in one season or something, and I don't know the specific circumstances of the Duke Women's Team. However, this year the Santa Clara Men's team has had to recruit players from the regular student body including even the student volunteer on the sports information staff to fill in against competitive teams where they got wiped out 0 & 0 in 20 minutes. I happen to know that some very solid players who were ranked at least top 200 or top 150 on tennisrecruiting applied to Santa Clara and they were not asking for one penny in scholarship money but the coach wouldn't even respond to them. He really could have used those players and has no one to blame for this but his own arrogance.

The University of Washington Women's Team had the exact same situation a couple of years ago and the coaches were pretty unwelcoming to a lot of players that they could have used rather than try to find a club player and/or default the match. The University of Michigan's Men's Team also has a roster that gets dangerously low and they could have been much more welcoming to players willing to play with no scholarship money. However, I don’t think the Michigan Men’s team ever had to fish for intramural players out of the student body…yet.

Anyone who has more specific information than I do about programs in question should feel free to chime in.

LoveTheGame said...

To be fair to some of the smaller programs, it does cost money to have walk ons. Although, you'd think most teams would have at least one. Also, doesn't it seem that in men's tennis, since a 4 or 5 star recruit can walk on to a top 5 or 10 program, but would only receive a small scholarship to a lesser school, he may just want to go to the better program. Whereas, with women's tennis the same level player can get a full scholarship to a smaller or up and coming program. It's a no brainer for them, unless money doesn't matter in the slightest.

Arrogant/Incompetent College Coaches said...

LoveTheGame said...
"To be fair to some of the smaller programs, it does cost money to have walk ons."

Pardon my ignorance but how much could it cost?! The players' parents are paying the school full tuition! Even if it costs some money there is no excuse for having rosters with only 6-8 players under any circumstances.

scholarships said...

Colette, Regarding the Duke women's situation, you state, "Perhaps it is a have/have not situation. I think it is a lot to ask of a walk-on to devote the same amount of time and effort and receive zero for it compared to everyone else on the team. Most men on a team have at least some % of scholarship dollars, which even if small, is important to their status as a student-athlete."

How is it that some of the top mens teams have 11-12 guys on the team with just 4.5 scholarships? Are most of the guys getting only small partials. Some of these players, especially at private schools, seem like they would have to be getting full scholarships. It seems like some of these players would be on the team with no money or are Men's coaches just more creative?

Colette Lewis said...

To answer your last question first, men's coaches are more creative because they have to be. Women's coaches either give out a full scholarship or they don't. And of course everyone knows which woman is in which category. With no option for everyone on a men's team to be on full scholarship, I think most boys and their parents realize early in the recruiting process that 100% scholarship is unlikely, so their expectations are lower. Private schools must abide by the same NCAA rules as public ones regarding scholarships, so that isn't relevant.

Scholarships said...

Colette, Thanks for your response. Though it wasn't clear, what I meant (re: public/private) is that someone with a partial scholarship to a private school would still have a hefty bill to pay. On the other hand, someone with a similar partial scholarship at a state school most likely pays considerably less in college expenses.

From a women's tennis perspective, it seems like it would be harder to find someone who would pay the cost of Duke to just walk on as opposed to say an in-state athlete at a UNC or Florida.