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Wednesday, February 17, 2016

North Carolina Men Claim Top Spot in Team Rankings after Indoor Title; Ulises Blanch Signs with Lagardere; Teens Pick Up Wins in Surprise and Plantation

New Division I team rankings were released today by the ITA, the last release which will feature polls, with the computer rankings taking over next week. Men's Team Indoor champion North Carolina has made program history several times in the last week, and today they assume the No. 1 team ranking for the first time.  Three of the top 5 teams are from the ACC; only one Pac-12, one SEC and one Big Ten team are in the Top 10. It will be interesting to see if that mix is retained in the computer rankings. As is regularly the case after the Team Indoor, the shuffling in the rankings is substantial. Complete lists are available by clicking on the ranking header.

MEN:

Feb 17                                          Feb 3
1
    North Carolina
                          7
2
    Virginia
                          1
3
    TCU
                          2
4
    UCLA
                          9
5
    Wake Forest    
                         10
6
    Ohio State
                          8
7
    Texas A&M
                          3
8
    Oklahoma
                          5
9
    Southern Cal
                          6
10
    Texas Tech
                         14

The women's Top 10 stayed virtually the same, with just one Top 10 change. After Ohio State beat Vanderbilt for the second time in two weeks, this time 4-2 in Columbus, the Buckeyes and Commodores switched places at 5 and 6.

WOMEN:
Feb 17                                       Feb 10
1
    Cal
                          1
2
    North Carolina
                          2
3
    Florida
                          3
4
    Georgia
                          4
5
    Ohio State
                          6
6
    Vanderbilt
                          5
7
    Duke
                          7
8
    Michigan
                          8
9
    Virginia 
                          9
10
    Texas Tech
                         10


There are no new singles or doubles rankings this week.


Today Lagardere announced the signing of Ulises Blanch, meaning the 17-year-old American, who lives and trains in Argentina, is relinquishing his college eligibility.  Blanch, currently No. 13 in the ITF Junior rankings, reached the quarterfinals of the Metropolia Orange Bowl in December and won the Grade 1 warmup tournament in Australia last month.

From the Lagardere release:

“I am very excited to start this new partnership with Lagardère Sports,” said Blanch. “This is a huge step in my young career and it is important to surround myself with the right people to help navigate this journey. Lagardère Sports’ global expertise and tennis knowledge will offer me a great platform to develop, grow and succeed on and off the tennis court.”

“We are thrilled to welcome Ulises to the Lagardère Sports family and support his development as he successfully transitions to the professional tour,” said [Lagardère Sports Senior Vice President, Tennis Julien] Cassaigne. “With a powerful serve and aggressive style of play, Ulises has an impressive array of skills and a solid work ethic that will endear him to tennis fans in the U.S. and around the world.”

In USTA Pro Circuit action today, qualifiers and teenagers collected first round wins.  In the $25,000 Surprise, Arizona tournament, Claire Liu defeated No. 4 seed Michelle Larcher de Brito of Portugal 7-6(5), 7-5(2) in two hours and 13 minutes, while fellow Southern Californian qualifier Kayla Day downed No. 5 seed Kristie Ahn(Stanford) 6-4, 6-3. Lauren Embree(Florida), Chiara Scholl and Canadian Aleksandra Wozniack were the other qualifiers to advance to the second round.  Liu will play Turkey's Basak Eraydin, with Day facing Stanford junior Carol Zhao of Canada, who defeated qualifier Jacqueline Cako(Arizona State) in three tiebreakers taking three hours and 26 minutes to play.

Sixteen-year-old CiCi Bellis, seeded No. 8, beat 38-year-old Lindsay Lee-Waters 7-5, 6-1 to advance to a second round meeting with Usue Arconada.  Jamie Loeb(North Carolina) ousted No. 3 seed Hiroko Kuwata of Japan 6-2, 4-6, 6-3 and will play wild card Alexandra Sanford, who won her match on Tuesday. Wild card Hurricane Tyra Black's Pro Circuit debut was spoiled by top seed Mayo Hibi of Japan, who took a 6-2, 6-3 decision from the 14-year-old.

At the $10,000 men's Futures tournament in Plantation, wild card Reilly Opelka picked up his first win of the year. The 18-year-old Wimbledon boys champion was to have competed in the Memphis ATP tournament as a wild card, but was recovering from a stress fracture and wasn't ready. Playing on the Har-Tru in Plantation, Opelka beat 18-year-old qualifier Robert Levine 6-3, 6-4 and will face Kaichi Uchida of Japan on Thursday. Wild card Stefan Kozlov, the No. 5 seed, defeated qualifier Winston Lin(Columbia) 6-2, 5-7, 6-3. He will play Agustin Velotti of Argentina tomorrow.

Qualifier Junior Ore(Texas A&M) and lucky loser Gonzales Austin(Vanderbilt) also moved into the second round with wins today. 

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