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Monday, January 27, 2014

New Formats, but Few New Faces Advance to ITA Team Indoor Championships; Stanford's Men's Recruiting Class Ranked No. 1

North Carolina returns to Charlottesville to defend its Team Indoor title
The Kickoff Weekend is now complete, so we know the 16 teams who will be playing for the ITA Team Indoor Championship next month.

The men's teams competing in Houston,  Feb. 14-17:

Ohio State
Southern California
Notre Dame
Mississippi State
Texas A&M (host)

The women's teams competing in Charlottesville, Feb. 7-10:
Texas A&M
North Carolina
Southern California
Virginia (host)

On the men's side, there were four hosts, seeded No. 1, who did not advance: Pepperdine(12), Kentucky(8), Mississippi(10) and Vanderbilt(15). Mississippi and Vanderbilt lost their first round matches, to No. 4 seeds Michigan(T26) and Texas(20), while Pepperdine and Kentucky both went down in close matches in the finals, Pepperdine 4-2 to Cal(16) and Kentucky 4-3 to Notre Dame(29).

Because this is a new men's format, with no-ad scoring being used in both singles and doubles and tiebreakers at 5-all rather than 6-all, I decided to go back and research how often that many No. 1 seeds failed to advance. It turns out this is the most since the Kickoff Weekend, with its draft, was instituted in 2009.  Here are the numbers:

2009: 12 of 15 advance
2010: 13 of 15 advance
2011: 15 of 15 advance
2012: 14 of 15 advance
2013: 13 of 15 advance

I have no way of knowing whether the no-ad scoring is responsible for this year's record. Many more years of results would be necessary to get a meaningful sample size. But perhaps parity, which as you can see by the numbers, isn't the norm in men's Division I tennis, will be one of the side effects if the experimental format is adopted permanently.

The men's teams playing in this year's Team Indoor tournament who did not qualify last year are: Texas, Illinois, Notre Dame and Baylor, who chose not to play the tournament last year.

The women are also playing a new format, with a match tiebreaker in lieu of a third set, but if that had any impact on the results, it's hard to spot.  This year, 14 of the 15 women's No. 1 seeded hosts advanced to the tournament, with only Nebraska(25) failing to make it to Charlottesvile. The Cornhuskers lost their opening match to Georgia Tech(19), with Vanderbilt(16) beating the Yellow Jackets 4-3 in the final. Here are the women's numbers from past years:

2009: 12 of 15 advanced
2010: 12 of 15 advanced
2011: 13 of 15 advanced
2012: 12 of 15 advanced
2013: 14 of 15 advanced

Only two teams are competing in Charlottesville this year that weren't in the tournament last year: Clemson and Florida, with the Gators electing not to participate last year, and those are not new faces in any true sense of the word. But Texas A&M is establishing itself as a regular participant, and its run to the NCAA final last year is an indication that there is some upward mobility available, at least to teams who compete in one the the "super" conferences. Later this week, I will have a report on Michigan's win over Yale for Tennis Recruiting Network later this week, with the Wolverines also now a regular member of the field at the Indoor Championships and the NCAA Sweet 16.

For complete results of the Kickoff Weekend, see the ITA website. The ITA release, which features accounts of some of the weekend's most dramatic matches, is here.

The Tennis Recruiting Network revealed its January recruiting class rankings for Division I men today, with Stanford coming out on top. Close behind were South Carolina, Kentucky, Duke and Alabama. Definitely some new faces there.  I am one of the 23 voters participating in the rankings.  The complete list of 25 teams is available here.


Tim Seals said...

the game is a shame now. I feel badly for players and coaches. I think players should unite and pick a day to boycott all play.