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Friday, May 10, 2013

Denver Men Shock No. 15 Seed Florida in NCAA First Round: Memphis Women Post First Tournament Win; Round Table II with Championship Predictions

Fifty first round matches were played today in the NCAA Division I tournament, with several surprises, but no real shockers, until this evening. That's when the unranked Denver men came back from a 3-1 deficit to defeat No. 15 seed Florida in Gainesville.

Denver was placed in the 49-64 grouping after going 11-11 and winning the WAC title to earn an automatic bid.  The Pioneers lost the doubles point and were down 2-0 when Florida's Gordon Watson won at No. 5, but got on the board with senior Enej Bonin's win at No. 1. Michael Alford of Florida won at 4 to give the Gators that 3-1 lead, but they couldn't finish it with Denver's Jens Vorkefeld making it 3-2 with a win at 2.  Needing both wins in the two matches still on court, Denver got them in quick succession. Max Krammer defeat Bob van Overbeek 3-6, 6-3, 7-5 at line 3, and moments later, Alex Clinkenbeard defeated Billy Federhofer 7-5, 1-6, 6-1 to put the Pioneers in the second round for the first time in program history.  See the Gatorzone website for more on the match and quotes from first-year head coach Bryan Shelton of Florida.

All 32 matches were played in the men's first round today, and in additional to Denver, the only 49-64 team to win, seven teams in the 33-48 grouping came out on top over their opponents in the 17-32 grouping. (Click on the school name for the athletic website story.) Those seven are: UNC-Wilmington, who beat South Carolina 4-0; Virginia Tech, who beat Michigan 4-2; Washington, who beat Notre Dame 4-3; North Carolina State, who beat Auburn 4-1; Minnesota, who beat Virginia Commonwealth 4-3 (with Enej Bonin's twin brother Rok the hero in that one); Northwestern, who beat Wake Forest 4-3, and San Diego, who beat Alabama 4-3.

There were 18 women's first round matches on Friday, with two mild surprises among them. (There was also a match unfinished, with No. 6 seed Miami leading North Florida 3-0 when rained postponed play until Saturday).  In its first NCAA match in program history, Memphis, in the 33-48 grouping, beat Florida State 4-1, and UNLV, also in the 33-48 grouping, beat Tulsa 4-3. Both Florida State and Tulsa were in the 17-32 groups.

Part II of the Tennis Recruiting NCAA round table was published today, with the college tennis experts asked to make their predictions. The only two men's teams selected were No. 1 UCLA and No. 2 Virginia, with the bulk of panel selecting the Cavaliers, including me.  Florida was the consensus pick on the women's side, but I went against the grain on that one.

Follow the draws, which also have links to live scoring (and live video when available) at ncaa.com. Women's are here and men's are here.


Austin said...

Good matches yesterday, thankfully I was able to follow every single match, which was awesome. We had possibly the biggest upset in mens history yesterday in Gainesville. I also noticed several top end lineup guys sitting out for some of the higher ranked teams yesterday. Here is my short insights on the close matches:

Minnesota-VCU was a good match, but only #1 went to three sets oddly enough.

Wake Forest completely choked against Northwestern. When it was 3-3, the deciding point had WF serving for the match, but he dropped serve, NWU held, then broke to win it.

Alabama was crushing San Diego in doubles, cruised to a 8-2 win at #2, then was up a break at both of the other spots, however, did a nice choke job and lost both in tiebreakers. The singles matches were pretty lopsided.

Washington & Notre Dame were at 3-3 and the deciding match had ND up 3-1 in the 3rd, rain came and they moved indoors where UW won the final five games. That is one match where the rain possibly changed the outcome.

Clemson-Boise State was another weird match. Came down to the final court, but most matches were lopsided.

VTech & Michigan was a big surprise for me. Michigan won dubs and got the automatic point from Evan King, but that was it. Tech was tougher in the third sets. Decision to move Vlad Stefan back to #3 did not pay off.

UNC-Wilmingtons win was pretty shocking, they dominated from the start, very impressive.
Stanford should have left their seniors on the bench.

Kandath no-showed and Lin just didnt have it, although he played respectable. LSU dominated at several courts after losing doubles.

NCST-Auburn was another good one. After NCST won doubles, Auburn cruised to win five of the six opening sets, however, NCST came back to win almost every second set, then cruised in the third sets and won a big match.

Last but not least, Denever, WOW, what a win! That is the biggest upset I can ever remember in my history of following NCAA tennis religiously(since 2001 following matches online). They just hung tough and the final two matches beat Florida's two seniors, ending Van Overbeeks career with the clutch win at #3. I knew Bonin would beat Piro, but huge efforts by the others.

Today should be a great day. The top five teams should cruise, but everyone else better be on their game if they want to advance to Illinois next week.

Joe tennis fan said...

Don't forget 3 seed Northwestern beating 2 seed Wake Forest.

Colette Lewis said...

@Joe tennis fan:
Sorry, I wrote that match down, then forgot the link. I will add now.

5.0 Player said...

With regard to Stanford, I think Austin will agree with me on this, but isn't it now time to fire the coach? Not only have 90% of all their great blue chip recruits cratered over the past decade there, but yesterday's fiasco should be the last draw. Even a monkey would have had the requisite IQ to keep Trey Strobel in the lineup and left an obviously injured Kandath and burnt out Lin on the bench.

Strobel has the best win loss record on the team and has been instrumental in all the teams important wins this year.

This was not "Senior Day" against a community college. This was the freaking NCAA's!! How dumb can these guys be?!

russ said...

Strobel broke his wrist at the PAC 12 tourney.

5.0 Player said...

I just read the Stanford website and they are indicating that Strobel was injured so I stand somewhat corrected in my previous post.

Having said that, there are other good players that they could have put in besides an injurred Kandath and Lin.

The Stanford site did confirm that this is the first time in Stanford school history that they lost in the first round of the NCAA's.

russ said...

Other than strobel, they had no one. Just look at their roster and season statistics. Only two others played singles: Ball and Tsodikov and neither are better than Lin. Would they have been better than a Kandath returning from injury? Not in the #2 slot and even if they put one of those two in at six and moved everyone else up in the lineup, the result probably would have been the same.

5.0 Player said...

Russ- You do make some good points but I disagree about Tsodikov. I think he would have done better than both Kandath and Lin. His record is pretty solid and at least he would have shown up.

The broader question is what does this Stanford program do to make their players get so much worse every year? Lin, Ball, Kehrer, and Kandath were all outstanding junior players who got worse every year at Stanford just like so many others (e.g., Clayton) in the years before those guys. They should have had the option to use good versions of these players not 80% reduced capacity versions. The program appears to be some sort of destruction crew over there.

Russ said...

I agree about tsodikov being a gamer, and his lack of use may partially be due to his very unorthodox game (which may fit in to "not so amused's" rant about the biases of coaches); but he would not have been a difference maker.

In regards to Stanford's talent, I think you over rate it. Ball and kehrer are simply not that good and frankly never were. Don't know anything about Lin's junior career, but I'm pretty familiar with Matt's. I too thought he would be a bigger force, but ever since his loss to Danny Kreyman at the New York State high school championships he has had a very mediocre career. What I saw when I watched Matt's matches, was the liabilities and flaws of his two handed forehand, his mainly flat ball hitting in the mid court game which left very little margin for error. I sort of concluded that his two handed style simply overpowered juniors but that didn't work as well in college. The two real blue chippers were Klahn and thacher. Thacher was more interested in school. He graduated with a 4.0. I believe. (In fact, school is an issue for these guys. They take real classes like bioengineering and mechanical engineering.) so the point being, Stanford's lack of success since whitlinger has been coach, is not all his fault.

Cal Alumn said...

Russ - Since you seem to know so much about Stanford, can you tell me when Strobel broke his wrist at the Pac 12 tournament? Was it during the long 3-setter in the quarters against Washington (Kamisar) or was it during warmup against UCLA before the semis the next day?

Perhaps he broke it in some accident that was not tennis related. The reason I ask is that he won the match against Washington but then was out of the lineup the next day against UCLA. Usually there is a retirement or something. I actually saw his Wash. match at Ojai and he played very well and never took an injury timeout or anything. Maybe he felt the pain the next day.

wi tennis said...

By the way, Stanford made the quarters last year! That's the final 8 teams! So, maybe cut them some slack. Also, the players have a lot to do with their own development. Kandath and Stroebel injured too. It's easy to take shots from the internet. Harder to be in Coach Whitlinger's shoes and coach a legendary program, where it is impossible to do what Coach Gould did!

russ said...

I heard he broke it in the parking lot after the Washington match. Kandath's injury, by the way, was also off court and car related. Duke Women still win the prize of team gutting injuries, though.

Junior Development Coach said...

Wi- It's admirable that you're trying to defend the Stanford coach but the evidence is simply overwhelming that he should be taking a lot of the blame.

In just about the past 10 years in a row Stanford has had one of the Top 3 recruiting classes in the nation, often the number 1 class. They usually get at least 3 players per year who were Blue Chip and top 10 ranked. Yet, they still underperform every year as compared to the talent they have had. If I can find the time I will try to send you a list of over 10 players who were great juniors and sometimes great in their freshman year but end up getting worse just about every year there.

Alex Clayton is just one example. During his freshman year, he won one of the entire national championships (I think it was the indoor). So, he was one of the top 3 or 4 players in college tennis. He got worse every year after that and by his senior year he was losing a ton at #3 singles and I don't think he ever even made the NCAA singles tournament again.

Thacher came into Stanford with a gold ball at Kalamazoo and he was serving 140 MPH. Everyone who saw him agreed that he was about the best "Can't Miss" professional prospect they had ever seen. He was obviously offered lots of professional endorsement contracts. I saw him playing one year later after he had spent some time at Stanford and his serve had dropped to about 95 MPH and his winning record was pretty mediocre. I remember coming to watch him play and telling one of my friend's that he has to see how big this guy's serve is because I had seen it a year ago at Kalamazoo and so I figured he still had it. After my friend saw the guy serving repeatedly at about 95 MPH he must have thought I had been smoking something. Something had gone wrong and this can't be simply brushed away by the fact that he studied a lot. He did start to come around a little his junior and senior year, but this guy was, and should have remained, virtually invincible merely practicing 8 hours a week.

These are just 2 examples.

I'm sure Austin can give me about 10 other examples.

The only player that I can recall in the last decade who didn't implode once he got to Stanford is Bradley Klahn. Klahn actually improved but I can't think of one other player who improved there.

Numerous players come to Stanford as top 5 or top 10 in juniors but by their junior or senior years most of the guys who were ranked below them, e.g., #20-#90, who went to other schools can now cream them when those same guys couldn't even hold these guy's jocks in juniors just 2 years before.

I'm not the first one to say this. Austin and others have been documenting this with countless examples on this blog for years.

AustinTennisLimits? said...

Please stop with the "Austin posts on a blog and that equals documentation." No disrespect to Austin who clearly does have intelligent opinions and loves college tennis. But it's silly to think that he "documents" anything but his personal views.

Junior Development Coach said...

Nice Try AustinTennisLimits but I am not talking about Austin's opinions, I am talking about the numerous examples he's given about specific players, what they were ranked as juniors and how they performed in college in terms of their win-loss records, etc.

Similar to the examples and evidence that I set forth in my message.

Real evidence and statistics, not his opinion. I don't know where you got this idea that I am saying that his opinion is evidence. I specifically stated that "Austin can give examples" because he has done so many times in the past. I'm talking about all the examples and statistics. These are called facts in case you didn't realize the definition. You also obviously need to learn to read more carefully.

wi tennis said...

Thacher's serve went from 140 mph to 95????

So let's assume that coaches are the only one who have control over a player's development and TR.net recruiting rankings are exact and include all of the internationals and last minute recruits...

...what is the goal of Stanford Tennis or even college tennis? Is it to develop professional players? Or is it to prepare it's student-athletes for the world after tennis is done?

Because if it is to develop professional players, every program in the country is a failure!

Of the players who left college in the last 5-7 years...

Isner and Kevin Anderson have been consistent. Nobody else has been consistent enough to say they "made it" and completely support themselves year-in and year-out. No doubles players either. Butorac, Huey, Inglot, etc are great players, but are still struggling to get by on just prize money. Levine was in college one semester and is in and out of top 100.

In the end, tennis is a game where you hit a ball back and forth over a net a million times. It really isn't necessary for the world to continue...and, frankly, it's a bit ridiculous if you think about it. Sure, we all have a passion for it, but it's not the goal in life!

Junior Development Coach said...

Wi Tennis: Do you really think that we're all dumb enough to fall for your elementary school tactic of changing the subject? Not once did I or anyone else mention that Stanford failed by not developing professional players.

All we're saying is that the Stanford coaches should take some responsibility for the fact that their college players tend to get much worse while in their program and especially as compared to other college programs.

You have obviously failed miserably in winning that argument so you are trying to now win a totally irrelevant argument that it isn't Stanford's job to develop pro players. Perhaps you can win your own argument with yourself on that subject just like you can probably win the argument with yourself that the sky is blue. The problem is that this ISN’T the argument that we're having on this blog right now.

wi tennis said...

I'm not trying to win anything. I'm trying to have a discussion. This isn't a Fox News debate where there needs to be a winner and you need to put people down. The world is gray, not black and white. I won't be attempting to discuss anything with you any more.

Geoff Grant said...

Collette - not a comment but in case you missed this - very sad - was a nice kid


Austin said...

Here is what has happened, Stanford has lost a lot of their typical recruits to Virginia. Another very good academic school that has risen up and gobbled up the top kids who want to go pro AND get a great education. The Stanford kids have just not improved in recent years once they get on campus. I can absolutely give examples if you want.

Again, their program is doing fine, they just are not elite any longer, that was my original point.

northerncal said...

Stanford program and coaching is NOT fine. I have spoken to a number of ex-players and they all have the same thing to say. Head coach has lost his passion for coaching, does no scouting of opponents, has only negative feedback on court during matches, rarely works individually with players. Can't offer much help when a player has technical issues or their game goes off. Throws his hands up in despair like the worst kind of tennis parent when a player muffs a shot. Add to that the fact that most players are very serious students and, truly, arguments to the contrary, the academic rigor at Stanford is higher than most other schools in the country (do you ever see Stanford players playing Futures tournaments in the middle of the academic year? It wouldn't be possible). Yes, the players are at least partially responsible for managing their own success but it would be far more attainable if the program supported that. It just doesn't anymore. The last 9 years have seen one year not making the NCAAs, 1 first round exit, 2 second rounds exits, 2 round of 16 and 3 quarterfinals. When Stanford had Clayton, Klahn and Thatcher at 1-3 and Hirshman, Lin and Kandath for 4-6 they had players who, if developed properly, should have contended for a national title. If,as Russ says, some of these blue chip guys were overrated, they should still be able to fill in the lower slots of a championship team. Ty Tucker at Ohio State makes a living off of taking non blue chip juniors and developing them into top collegiate players (Kobelt, McCarthy, Koniecko). Stanford does the opposite these days. No one wants to rock the boat or be hurtful to a coach who is otherwise a nice guy, but as far as doing the right things to develop players and keep the program where it once was, that is not happening. These sentiments have been flying around for the last several years; once players get through they don't want to burn their bridges. From what I have been told a few have spoken out but no changes resulted. Easier to blame the players-overrated, not focused, etc,etc. But so many, year after year? Guys who have likely devoted half their lives to tennis and have had great success in the juniors, suddenly, en mass, losing interest and focus and desire? Don't think so.

Austin said...

Maybe I should have been more specific, I meant their program is fine from a results standpoint, they are still a good program, just nowhere near elite. I have no clue about what is going on behind the scenes on The Farm. They are now barely a step up from Cal.

5.0 Player said...

Austin said: "[About Stanford:] They are now barely a step up from Cal."

Austin- Ironically, where you were once one of the harshest critics of Stanford's program, today you are repeatedly being too kind to them.

Actually, Stanford was ranked well below Cal all year this year.

russ said...

I too have heard a few grumbles about the quality of Stanford's coaching staff, but as I mentioned before I don't think it is all Whitlinger's fault. Austin mentions how Virginia has supplanted Stanford as the place where all the top recruits now want to go, and I think that's absolutely true. Just look at the two top classes for this year: UCLA and Virginia. Monster classes on top of all the high blue chippers they already have. (BTW, How do they do it on 4 1/2 scholarships? State aid for in state students? Financial aid for low income students? How do they afford all these players?.) Another issue bugging Stanford is a university rule regarding online education for athletes. They don't like it and make it difficult for an online student to be accepted. Dennis Novikov wanted to go to Stanford, but the SAT requirements were too high for him. Alot of these top five/ten recruits go to USTA or Academy programs and Stanford no longer appeals to these kids who want to be pros:Too difficult to get in, too difficult to balance school and tennis, and a building reputation of a program in disarray. So Stanford gets very good players who want a Stanford education rather than a pro tennis career.

OSU Parent said...

northerncal said...
“Stanford program and coaching is NOT fine. I have spoken to a number of ex-players and they all have the same thing to say. Head coach has lost his passion for coaching, does no scouting of opponents…”

Actually, that description sounds a lot like the Washington coaches. I just watched my son, an OSU player, compete at the NCAA’s first and second round last Friday and Saturday. When Washington played Notre Dame first round, as expected, all of the OSU coaches and some OSU players, came early to make sure to scout every single doubles and singles match so they would be prepared to play the winner in the next round. Then after UW beat Notre Dame and OSU took over the courts to play their match against Cleveland State I was getting nervous because I knew the 3 Washington coaches were going to stick around to scout my son’s game as well as his teammates’. I was surprised when all the UW people left the facilities. But I figured that at least their coaches would come back later after a meal or something to watch the singles because this was such an obvious and convenient opportunity to scout their upcoming opponents. To my surprise not one of the Washington coaches came back to watch one single match!

In the second round, our coaches obviously had a “book” on each Washington player and it showed because we beat them handily. I don’t understand what the Washington coaches did that Friday that could have been more important than scouting OSU. And, how could they have gotten better scouting information then watching their opponent’s play live the day before their match? The video feed was broken so they certainly couldn't have watched something from their hotel rooms.

deano23 said...

Have to feel for Stanford men's coach Whitlinger. Might it not be his fault if the team loses but the players'? As for the LSU match he did choose the lineup he thought was best to win, but is there anything wrong with entering a player who is a senior, a leader, and potentially playing his last match? It must be noted, too, that Stanford always makes academic all american (the team must average a 3.2 for the year) and has multiple individual academic all americans (3.5 gpa for the year) every year. Some credit must go to coach. Furthermore, regarding LSU, Morissey had a questionable overrule on a set point in the first and Lin lost a first-set tiebreaker. If those two sets had gone the Cards' way it could have been a different outcome.