Results From Early ITA Regional Championships; Kudla on American Men's Tennis; Rankings Watch; John Peers Feature
Most of the 24 USTA/ITA Regional Championships begin later this week, but five were held in the past few days, with two women and three men earning spots in the USTA/ITA Indoor Intercollegiate Championships November 7-10, 2013.
Two of the finals featured the always awkward teammate vs teammate contest, both on their home courts, with Michigan's Ronit Yurovsky defeating Emina Bektas in Ann Arbor, and Tennessee's Hunter Reese downing Mikelis Libietis in Knoxville. By making the regional final, preaseason No. 1 Libietis, who retired up 6-4, 1-3, is virtually assured of an at-large bid to New York, but Bektas, who lost 6-1, 1-6, 6-3, is No. 25 in the preseason rankings, although she is likely to get an at-large bid based on her quarterfinal appearance at the All-American Championships.
Lucia Batta(2) of UNLV won the Mountain Regional, defeating Nevada-Reno's Michelle Okhremchuk(5) 7-5, 6-3 in the final.
Keeping with the theme of no No. 1 seeds collecting titles, Malte Stropp of Mississippi State, the No. 3 seed, defeated top seed Nik Scholtz of Ole Miss 7-6(4), 6-2 to win the Southern Regional. With a No. 7 preseason ranking, Scholtz has a good chance to get an at-large bid to New York, although there are only six at-large bids available for the men.
In the Southeast Regional, Georgia's Nathan Pasha, the No. 2 seed, beat unseeded South Florida freshman Sasha Gozun 6-1, 6-2 in the final. Gozun, just 17, defeated top seed Ben Wagland of Georgia in the second round, and also beat No. 8 seed Mike Alford of Florida en route to the final. Pasha didn't lose a set in his six victories.
College Tennis Online has an up-to-date look at the current qualifiers, including the regional doubles winners, and also lists the remaining openings for the Indoor championships here.
For an explanation of the IIT selection criteria, which differs for the men and women, see this page on the ITA website.
Denis Kudla, who made the long trek from the Tiburon Challenger Saturday to the ATP 250 in Moscow, where he plays his first round match tomorrow against Croatia's Ivo Karlovic, was asked about the state of American men's tennis while in Northern California. Kudla says, in this article by Paul Bauman, "If you look at other big federations -- the French, the Spanish -- they don't have anyone 19, 20, 21. They may have one guy. We have maybe six, seven, even more than that coming up. Maybe in the next three or four years, I think something good is going to happen with American tennis." Kudla, who is now ranked 95, has been between 90 and 120 since May.
Speaking of rankings, one of my weekly must-reads is Challenger Tennis's Rankings Watch, which provides a list of players in the 60-300 ranking range who have achieved a career-high ATP ranking. This week, US players reaching career highs include Tim Smyczek, Bjorn Fratangelo and Chase Buchanan, and former collegiate players on the list include Slovenia's Blaz Rola (Ohio State), Australia's JP Smith (Tennessee), and Greece's Ted Angelinos(Virginia).
Linda Pearce, the Australian journalist at The Age, has a long feature on John Peers, the former Middle Tennessee State and Baylor standout, who now has the highest ATP ranking of any Australian male, with his doubles ranking of 29. Peers, who along with Jamie Murray of Great Britain is still in the running for the World Tour Finals in London next month, says he was never concerned about falling behind his contemporaries by attending college in the US. ''I was never worried about that. I always knew that you're not really peaking in tennis now until you're 25 to 30. Some of these top guys are pushing it. A couple of these doubles guys are pushing 40 now, so the game's become a lot more physical and a lot more things are happening, so [durability] is a big thing."
The current ATP doubles team rankings for the Barclay's ATP World Tour Finals, where the Top 8 teams qualify, can be found here.