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Friday, January 3, 2014

December Aces; Jamie Loeb Isn't Number One in ITA Rankings?

If you need a quick reminder of who won what during the December junior tennis swing in Florida, my monthly aces column for the Tennis Recruiting Network features all 16 Eddie Herr, Orange Bowl and Junior Orange Bowl champions, as well as the winners of the USTA's Australian Open wild card tournament.

Indoor champion Clay Thompson is men's No. 1, but Jamie Loeb, the women's Indoor champion, is not.

The Intercollegiate Tennis Association released its first team rankings, as well as the first individual singles and doubles rankings that take into account the results of the fall tournament season. For all the rankings, see the ITA website's ranking page.

Reigning NCAA champions Virginia and Stanford top the poll results, which is standard practice, although last year the Virginia men were voted No. 1 over NCAA champion Southern Cal.  For the first six weeks or so, the rankings are decided by ballot, but a few weeks after the Team Indoor Championships in February, the computer takes over.

Men's Top 10, with final 2013 rank in parentheses:
1. Virginia (1)
2. UCLA (2)
3. Georgia (3)
4. Southern Cal (5)
5. Ohio State (4)
6. Tennessee (6)
7. Duke (7)
8. Baylor (12)
9. Kentucky (9)
10. Oklahoma (13)

Women's Top 10, with final 2013 rank in parentheses:
1. Stanford (1)
2. Florida (2)
3. North Carolina (4)
4. Georgia (5)
T5: UCLA (7)
T5: Southern Cal (6)
7. Texas A&M (3)
8. Cal (9)
9. Miami (8)
10. Duke (14)

Comparing the women's preseason Top 10 in 2013 to the actual Top 10 after the NCAAs demonstrates that it's difficult, but not impossible, to move up or down.  Texas A&M reached the NCAA team final without being in the preseason top 10, while Duke, with their devastating injury and academic issues, were No. 3 in the preseason, but finished at 14.

In the men's preseason Top 10, Tennessee wasn't included, nor was Mississippi, but Stanford was, and the Cardinal men ended up finishing at 42.

As for the singles and doubles, here's where I'm at a loss.  The computer is responsible for the rankings, but the ITA Rankings Guide states that the ranking committee can review this first set of rankings and make adjustments.  They did not adjust them, however, with Jamie Loeb, the North Carolina freshman coming in at No. 2 behind UCLA's Robin Anderson, whom she beat in both finals of the ITA fall majors.  Loeb has lost once in her freshman year, to NCAA semifinalist Breaunna Addison of Texas, has made ITA history with her two titles as a freshman, and yet she is not No. 1.  If this doesn't scream that the ranking system is flawed, nothing does.  Of course, all this can be settled on the court at the NCAA tournament, but it sure doesn't inspire confidence that the seedings there will be indicative of the player's true stature.

The women's Top 10:

1. Robin Anderson, UCLA
2. Jamie Loeb, North Carolina
3. Beatrice Capra, Duke
4. Lauren Herring, Georgia
5. Hayley Carter, North Carolina
6. Kristie Ahn, Stanford
7. Jenny Jullien, St. Mary's
8. Abigail Tere-Apisah,  Georgia State
9. Chanelle Van Nguyen, UCLA
10. Silvia Garcia, Georgia

The men's Top 10 is headed by UCLA's Clay Thompson, who won the consolation draw at the ITA All-American and took the title at the National Indoors.

The men's Top 10:

1. Clay Thompson, UCLA
2. Julian Lenz, Baylor
3. Mitchell Frank, Virginia
4. Jared Hiltzik, University of Illinois
5. Guillermo Alcorta, University of Oklahoma
6. Axel Alvarez Llamas, University of Oklahoma
7. Patrick Pradella, Baylor
8. Winston Lin, Columbia
9. Gonzales Austin, Vanderbilt
10. Ray Sarmiento, Southern Cal

Tennessee's Mikelis Libietis and Hunter Reese, who won the ITA All-American and were finalists at the Indoor, are No. 1 for the men.
Robin Anderson and Jennifer Brady of UCLA, also ITA All-American champions, are No. 1 in the women's doubles rankings.

Again, complete rankings can be found on the ITA's website.