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Thursday, May 3, 2018

April Aces; Seven Americans Reach Charleston $80K Quarterfinals; Three US Men Advance at Savannah Challenger; Hegarty out at Arkansas, Louderback Retiring from Notre Dame

Fifteen players are highlighted today in my monthly Tennis Recruiting Network column, with former collegiate men and a large group of teenaged girls having a memorable April. 

Two of the April Aces are still in the draw at the $80,000 Charleston South Carolina USTA Women's Pro Circuit event: 16-year-old Iga Swiatek of Poland and No. 2 seed Taylor Townsend.  Swiatek, a qualifier who beat Charlottesville champion Mariana Duque-Marino of Colombia 6-4, 6-2 today, is the only player not from the United States in the quarterfinals.  Top seed Madison Brengle will face Allie Kiick, who defeated No. 6 seed Anhelina Kalinina of Ukraine 6-2, 7-5.  Swiatek will face No. 8 seed Irina Falconi, No. 7 seed Jamie Loeb plays qualifier Katarina Stewart, who took out No. 4 seed Nicole Gibbs 6-0, 6-1, and 16-year-old Whitney Osuigwe will meet Townsend after Osuigwe defeated Katherine Sebov of Canada 7-6(5), 6-0.

Three US men have reached the quarterfinals of the $75,000 ATP Challenger in Savannah Georgia, with two of them, Michael Mmoh and Reilly Opelka, still in the hunt in the USTA's Roland Garros Wild Card Challenge.  Opelka defeated Christian Garin of Chile 6-4, 6-4 today in a battle of former Eddie Herr ITF champions to advance to a quarterfinal meeting with qualifier Martin Cuevas of Uruguay. No. 5 seed Michael Mmoh defeated wild card Frank Dancevic of Canada 6-4, 6-2 this evening and will face Max Purcell of Australia in the quarterfinals. The third American in the quarterfinals, Christian Harrison, will take on Thomaz Bellucci of Brazil next.  Mmoh and No. 7 seed Hugo Dellien of Bolivia are the only seeds remaining in the quarterfinals.

With the news of the NCAA individual entries coming out yesterday, I neglected to post the news that Arkansas women's head coach Michael Hegarty was fired after 15 years leading the Razorbacks. No reason was given for his dismissal, with athletic director Hunter Yurachek saying: “I appreciate his efforts with our program and wish him the best in his future endeavors. We will move forward in identifying a coach who will serve as a leader for our student-athletes on and off the court and will help our program compete and win in the Southeastern Conference and nationally.”  Speculation continues as to what role, if any, the Tennessee State .500 rule controversy played in this decision. For more on Hegarty's firing, see this article from the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette.

I also missed last week's announcement that Division I South Dakota State is eliminating both its men's and women's tennis programs, with lack of appropriate facilities the reason cited. For more, see this article from the Argus Leader.

In addition to Arkansas, another Power 5 conference women's head coaching job has opened with today's announcement of the retirement of Notre Dame's Jay Louderback. Louderback, who has led the women's program for 29 years, posted 748 victories with the Irish. Their season is over now, as Notre Dame did not make the NCAA tournament for the first time since 1996. For more on Louderback's career accomplishments, see this article from the Notre Dame website.

The latest ITA Division I rankings were run prior to the NCAA selections Tuesday and Wednesday but were not revealed until today. Because they are somewhat anticlimactic now, I'm not going to go into detail on them, but they are available here.

The last USTA Division I team rankings came out yesterday, and I will post those, because they do not have any impact on or correlation to the NCAA selections.  UCLA continues to be 1 to Wake Forest's 2 in the men's rankings, while the panel agrees with the NCAA committee that Vanderbilt is No. 1 among women's teams, even if North Carolina is ranked No. 1 by the ITA.  The complete Top 25 lists are available here.

USTA Division I Top 10 Team Rankings, May 2, 2018 (last week's rankings in parentheses):

1. UCLA (1)
2. Wake Forest (2)
3. Ohio State (3)
4. Stanford (4)
5. Texas A&M (5)
6. USC (8)
7. Mississippi State (10)
8. North Carolina (6)
9. Illinois (9)
10. TCU (7)

1. Vanderbilt (1)
2. North Carolina (3)
3. Duke (2)
4. Pepperdine (4)
5. Texas (5)
6. Stanford (7)
7. Georgia Tech (6)
8. UCLA (8)
9. Florida (9)
10. Mississippi (10)