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Sunday, May 12, 2013

Women's NCAA Division I Sweet 16 Set; Barry Men, Armstrong Atlantic Women Take Division II Titles

The final seven Sweet 16 teams were decided today, with 15 of the 16 women's seeds advancing, after 14 of 16 seeds reached the men's final stage Saturday.

The one unseeded women's team, Duke, retained their top 16 ITA team ranking despite a series of misfortunes, but for the regionals was sent to Lubbock, Texas, home of Texas Tech, who received the 16th seed, despite their No. 17 ranking.

Due to injuries suffered by Rachel Kahan, Monica Turewicz and Ester Goldfeld, and the dismissal of Beatrice Capra from the team due to academic violations, the Blue Devils have been unable to field a six-player team since early April, when Goldfeld broke her wrist. Prior to Goldfeld's injury, coach Jamie Ashworth had recruited as a walk-on former high school tennis player Nicole Lipp, who had completed her eligibility in soccer at Duke, to fill the No. 6 slot. After Goldfeld's injury, Lipp was forced to move up to No. 5, and Duke couldn't field three doubles teams, giving their opponents at least one point before singles started with a forfeit at 6. (For the complete story of their misfortune this season, see this article from the Duke website.)

Duke somehow managed to beat Florida State 4-3 with only five players, but that was their only win in that scenario, as they suffered losses to Georgia Tech, Clemson, Miami, North Carolina and Maryland in ACC play, then lost to Virginia Tech in the ACC tournament to finish the season with four straight losses.

But in Lubbock, they beat Ole Miss 4-1 in the first round, and today defeated Texas Tech 4-3 to make their most improbable appearance in the Sweet 16.  They will play two-time defending champion and No. 1 seed Florida Friday morning in Urbana, and there is no chance, given the circumstances, that their match will equal last year's thrilling semifinal. But if there was ever a team who could rightfully claim they're just happy to be there, it's Duke.

And as a side note, the NCAA language that states a team must have six players in the lineup is incorrect.  I checked with the NCAA, and they said the Participants Manual is wrong, with four, not six, the minimum number of players a team must field.

The other 4-3 decision on Sunday went to No. 14 Virginia, who pulled something of a Houdini on Texas.  Both Hana Tomljanovic and Li Xi were down 4-1 (two breaks) in their third sets with Texas's Elizabeth Begley and Noel Scott respectively, but both fought back to force tiebreakers, which they both won.  Xi, who saved two match points in the second set clinched Virginia's third straight trip to the Sweet 16 with a 3-6, 7-6(7), 7-6(0) win at line 4, after Tomljanovic had defeated Begley 6-2, 2-6, 7-6(4) at line 3.

The women's Sweet 16:

Florida(1) v. Duke
Alabama(9) v. California(8)
Southern Cal(5) v. Stanford(12)
Clemson(13) v. Georgia(4)

Texas A&M(3) v. Virginia(14)
Northwestern(11) v. Miami(6)
UCLA(7) v. Michigan(10)
Nebraska(15) v. North Carolina(2)

The women's draw, including times for Friday, is here.  The men's draw is here.

The Division II champions were crowned Saturday in Surprise, Arizona, with No. 1 Barry taking the men's title over No. 2 and defending champion Armstrong Atlantic 5-4. From this account, it sounds like a thrilling match, and with the win, Barry finished their perfect season  29-0.

Armstrong Atlantic did get a title Saturday however, with the women defending their 2012 championship with a 5-2 victory over BYU-Hawaii. For reasons that elude me, No. 1 Barry and No. 2 Armstrong Atlantic played in the quarterfinals, with Armstrong Atlantic avenging their only loss of the season by a 5-3 score.  For the recap of the possibly anticlimactic final, see this account at ncaa.com.


College fan said...

Stanford women are underdogs in the round of 16. Who'd of thunk it?

They didn't play the national indoors (which really starts in the round of 16) and now odds are that they will only play one match at the NCAAs in Champaign.

Hints from Heloise said...

Jack Sock and Steve Johnson just got Hammered on the Red Clay in the Bordeaux Challenger. Doesn't look good for the "Home Team" for this Red Clay Season. Try adding carpet cleaner in your wash to get the red clay stain out of your clothes... :)

USA Tennis said...

Hints from Heloise

A great sign that Jack and Steve are in Europe before French Open qualifying preparing on red clay.

It is no surprise they are not winning. Both have received bunch of wildcards already this year and Jack has barely won any matches this year in fact Jack has not won back to back matches in 3 months. (5-12 for the year). They both did poorly in the 3 Challengers on Clay last month.

I hope they start working harder and turn things around at the French Open. I am pulling for them.

florida parent said...

help me understand USTA's logic:

Spencer Papa loses in the 3rd round qualifying in Vero Beach Future so the USTA rewards him a main draw wildcard into Orange Park

He loses first round SO the USTA rewards him with another main draw wildcard into Tampa Future.

You wonder why all the USTA players struggle