Monday, May 27, 2019

Barry Sweeps Division II Titles; Georgia Gwinnett Takes Both NAIA Team Championships; ITF Reverses Course on World Tennis Tour; US Women Up, Men Down at French Open; Texas Tops Men's Spring Recruiting Class Rankings

While I was busy following the NCAA Division I tournament via my computer and covering the Division III tournament in person, the team events in NAIA and Division II were being played in Mobile Alabama and Altamonte Springs Florida respectively.

Georgia Gwinnett's Grizzlies swept the titles in NAIA, with the men winning their sixth straight with a 5-0 victory over No. 7 seed Xavier University(La). The Georgia Gwinnett women won their fourth straight and fifth overall, defeating Keiser University(Fla.) 5-2 in the championship match. Both teams were the top seeds.

In Division II, it was the Barry teams with the sweep. The top-seeded women won their third straight title, beating No. 3 seed Lynn 4-2. The top-seeded men's team came from 3-0 down to defeat No. 2 seed Columbus State 4-3. Unlike the other three streaking team champions, the Barry men had not won a title since 2015. Columbus State was the defending champion, having beaten Barry 4-3 in last year's final. The same two players met again at No. 1 singles, with that result proving to be the difference both years.

Also last week, the ITF announced major changes to the World Tennis Tour it had completely revised for 2019.  ATP and WTA points are now again on offer for $15Ks and expanded for $25Ks, qualifying draws are 48 rather than 32, and tournaments will now be eight days instead of seven.  The changes are retroactive, so in August of this year, there will be new rankings released based on the results from August of last year. The ITF will continue to offer ITF World Tennis Tour ranking points for qualifying, but those rankings will be used for entry only after the ATP and WTA rankings.  Three spots will be reserved for Top 100 ITF juniors in the $15,000 tournaments.

It's not entirely clear from the ITF article what happens to qualifying at the ATP Challenger level, which in this new 2019 system featured only four qualifying players. It is also not clear if Challengers will remain seven days in duration or will expand to eight.

Needless to say, this is an about face from the ITF, and while it's commendable that they are not digging in their heels and defying the outcry that has resulted from their original changes, they were warned by many that this was a mistake from the outset but did not heed those warnings. Now an entire year has been lost for some, particularly those who made the decision to forgo an attempt at the pro tennis tour due to the lack of opportunities in the new system. As is often the case in tennis, changes are made, prove disastrous, then are reversed or changed yet again, all by the same people, who never seem to suffer the consequences of these decisions.

The first two days of the French Open have been disastrous for US men, with six suffering defeats and no one advancing. Sam Querrey pulled out before the start of play with an injury, and the only seeded US man, No. 32 seed Frances Tiafoe, lost to Filip Krajinovic of Serbia 6-2, 4-6, 6-3, 3-6, 6-0. The first round ends Tuesday, with Steve Johnson, Mackenzie McDonald and Taylor Fritz the only US men with a chance to make the second round.

Seven US women have reached the second round: Sloane Stephens[7], Serena Williams[10], Danielle Collins, Sonya Kenin, Shelby Rogers, Lauren Davis and Jennifer Brady. Three more have a chance to advance as the first round is completed Tuesday: Madison Keys[14], Amanda Anisimova and Anna Tatishvili.

The University of Texas men won their first NCAA team championship last Sunday, and today the Tennis Recruiting Network revealed that the Longhorns finished first in the voting for the best 2019 recruiting class. Texas is followed in the rankings by Duke, Georgia, TCU and Ohio State. I am one of the voters who rank classes for these lists. See the complete rankings here. The women's class rankings will be out in the next week or two.


Guest said...

Colette, can you explain how a top team like Texas can sign 5 players when they only have 4.5 scholarships available? Texas is just one example. I don’t mean to single them out. The concept applies to other schools too. Just curious if you could provide an example of how teams make it work? In Texas’ case, they also have their top 2 players returning. One would think Ito and Sigsgaard both have full scholarships.

Also, hard to see how Baylor has only the #11 recruiting class when their one recruit stands out as the clear top UTR ranked player. I’m sure some teams ranked above Baylor would trade places.

Jon King said...

The fact is pro tennis can only support a few hundred men and a few hundred women. The ITF is actually doing exactly what they likely planned, start with drastic changes and then step back a bit to appease the critics. Pretty standard negotiating method. There was a huge problem in tennis, everyone could claim to be a pro player and fly around the world entering tournaments as long as their wealthy parents paid the bills. We had older players who rarely won a match playing year after year, gunking up the system.

The bottom line is these changes, which were likely planned from the beginning, help those players in the 200-400 range. But the best part of the changes, getting rid of the poser players who never had any chance of being inside the top 500 and never would make any money in tennis, remain in effect.

fan said...

Of course scoring should go back to normal, 8 game doubles and no ad and such, but no less urgent issue is stacking, another form of cheating. When that ONE pt will decide the outcome.

#5 Leolia Jeanjean/Ulyana Grib (Lynn) def. #39 Jil Engelmann/Eleonore Barrere (Barry); 6-0
#2 Verena Schmid/Zuza Maciejewska (Barry) def. Federica Mordegan/Eliska Petrackova (Lynn) 6-3

Div. II Barry women #1 dbls is ranked 39. #2, 2. So blatant, abusing the rule. And everybody does it, especially top schools.

This robs the pleasure of fans too. they want real #1 vs #1, not some gimmicks that allow easy wins at their respective positions. UVA's Mitchell Frank playing #3, remember? It's a perfect form of gerrymandering, actually.

Brent said...

Guest, I think most D1 teams would use partial scholarships to spread out their available $ over more players. I think 'Books Only, '25%', '50%', and '75%' are quite common. I think most people would be surprised at how few men's players are on true full rides.

Colette Lewis said...

I have been asked this question regarding 4.5 men's D-I scholarship for years. I am not privy to how any coach divides them up, but I have learned that many a family is willing to absorb some of the cost of attending college for an opportunity for their son to attend his desired school and play for that team. And that includes international players.