Steve Johnson Named Sullivan Award Semifinalist; Burdette, Min Qualify at BNP Paribas Open; No Change At Top of ITA Rankings; Where Tournament Entry Fees Go
The University of Southern California announced today that two-time singles and four-time team NCAA champion Steve Johnson has been named a semifinalist for the AAU Sullivan Award, given to the nation's top amateur athlete. Although semifinalist generally means one of four, that's not the case here, with 15 athletes reaching this stage, which will then be whittled down to three finalists. There are some household names among the nominations--Missy Franklin, Brittney Griner and Gabby Douglas--but given Johnson's accomplishments while at USC, there's no doubt he belongs there. Voting by the public accounts for one-third of the athlete's score. It's simple to vote, nothing is required but clicking one button, but the voting closes on March 17th, so don't wait. The full list of semifinalists and the link to the ballot are here.
At the BNP Paribas Open in Indian Wells, 2011 US Open girls champion Grace Min and 2012 NCAA finalist Mallory Burdette reached the main draw with second round qualifying wins today. Min, a wild card, defeated No. 18 seed Estrella Cabeza Candela of Spain 6-4, 6-0 to advance to her third WTA main draw of the year. She will play another Spaniard, Lourdes Dominguez Lino in the first round Wednesday. Burdette needed just over an hour to beat No. 13 seed Melinda Czink of Hungary 6-2, 6-1, and Wednesday will mark Burdette's first appearance in an WTA main draw this year, against wild card Jill Craybas of the US. Maria Sanchez, Vania King, Lauren Davis and Christina McHale are the other US women playing first round matches on Wednesday. The complete order of play is here.
Other young players advancing to the main draw include 19-year-old Garbine Muguruza of Spain, 18-year-old 2010 French Open girls champion Elina Svitolina of Ukraine, 19-year-old Monica Puig of Puerto Rico and 20-year-old Michelle Larcher de Brito of Portugal.
In men's first round qualifying, wild card Christian Harrison fell to top seed Ernests Gulbis of Latvia 6-7(5), 6-2, 6-4, Denis Kudla dropped a 6-0, 3-6, 6-3 decision to No. 11 seed Jesse Levine of Canada and Rhyne Williams fell to No. 6 seed Ricardas Berankis of Lithuania 7-6(2), 6-1. UCLA sophomore Dennis Novikov, a wild card, was still playing as of the 7 p.m Pacific time against No. 8 seed Guillaume Rufin of France. Veterans Bobby Reynolds and Michael Russell were two US players advancing to Wednesday's second and final round, and one of them will make the main draw, as they play each other.
The men's main draw was released this afternoon, with wild card Jack Sock drawing a qualifier. Wild card Steve Johnson plays Pablo Andujar of Spain, wild card James Blake meets Robin Haase of the Netherlands, wild card Tim Smyczek draws Yen-Hsun Lu of Taiwan. John Isner(15), Sam Querrey(23) and Mardy Fish(32) received byes, while Ryan Harrison drew Go Soeda of Japan for his first round opponent.
Links to all draws are here.
The new team rankings were released today by the ITA, with the Virginia men and North Carolina women retaining the top spots. UCLA has moved into second place behind Virginia, inching past USC, while Ohio State fell again, and is now down to No. 8. Georgia and Ole Miss moved up, with the Bulldogs going from 9 to 7, and the Rebels from 13 to 9. Duke stayed at No. 2 behind North Carolina in the women's rankings, while Texas A&M, who beat Florida, and Michigan, who beat Duke, moved up. Texas A&M is now at No. 4, the program's highest ranking ever, and Michigan is at No. 8, up from 13.
The ITA release has a handy list of the Top 25 upsets from last week in its release.
The rankings for Division II and Division III have also been updated recently. Armstrong Atlantic's men and women are at the top of Division II, and the Team Indoor winners--the Kenyon men and Johns Hopkins women--have taken the No. 1 spots in Division III.
All rankings can be accessed through the ITA ranking page.
I incur many of the same expenses as players do, with hotel rooms, plane tickets, meals, rental cars and gas all a part of the cost of covering national tournaments. But one expense I don't have is tournament entry fees. I'm as in the dark as anyone about how that money is distributed and spent, so I was happy to see Lisa Stone at Parenting Aces take the bull by the horns and seek some information about it. Her post, which every parent, player and coach should read, explains where that money goes.