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Wednesday, February 5, 2020

Di Lorenzo Eyes Slam Main Draws After Successful 2019; Shakeup in Men's Division I Team Rankings After Texas Loss

©Colette Lewis 2020--
Midland MI--

Today was my last day at the Dow Tennis Classic and with a winter storm approaching, I had to get back to Kalamazoo before the featured night matches Wednesday. No. 2 seed and defending champion Caty McNally defeated Alexa Glatch 6-2, 6-1, and top seed Madison Brengle, who won the Newport Beach WTA 125 tournament last week, was still on court against qualifier Gabriela Talaba(Texas Tech) of Romania.

I did see most of the day matches today, with Maria Mateas(Duke) winning a battle of American qualifiers on Meredith McGrath Stadium Court by a 6-4, 7-6(3) decision over Alycia Parks. All the seeded Americans won, with No. 4 Caroline Dolehide taking out Grace Min 6-1, 6-4; No. 8 Robin Anderson, who reached the Midland final in 2016, defeating Jovana Jovic of Serbia 4-6, 6-3, 6-4 and No. 3 seed Francesca Di Lorenzo downing Marcela Zacarias 6-2, 6-3.

Di Lorenzo wasn't entirely pleased with her level of play in the one hour and 24 minute match, but chalked that up as typical for the first round.

"I wasn't as aggressive as I would have liked," said the 22-year-old former Ohio State Buckeye. "I think maybe a little bit of nerves, trying to get into the match a little bit. But I think once I stepped in, stepped forward, moved to the net a couple of times, I was in control of the point and in control of the match. When I did that and didn't give up too much ground, I was doing well."

Di Lorenzo and Zacarias had not played before, but Di Lorenzo knew what to expect from her, because they are friends and had practiced together earlier in the week.

"She likes to get her opponents on the run, so once she gets control of the point she starts moving you and you get too much on defense, you lose your court positioning," Di Lorenzo said. "That's what she likes to do and when she gets her opportunity she finishes the point. So I was trying to take control before she did. When I didn't, I was on the run and you could tell."

Di Lorenzo recently returned from her first trip to Australia.

"That was definitely a new experience for me," Di Lorenzo said. "I had a couple of tough matches, got a couple of wins there, so that's good. At least I know what it's going to be like when I'm going that far away. It was a good experience, played my first Australian Open. When I came back here, I had a tough loss in Newport Beach, so I was happy to get through today. It wasn't my best tennis but to get the win was important."

Di Lorenzo said she is healthy aside from what she called "nagging little things that hurt," and happy to have gotten through the year without an injury as serious as the plantar fasciitis that ended her 2018 year prematurely.

"I'm just trying to maintain at this point, and make sure nothing causes me to be out like that again," Di Lorenzo said. "Prevention is probably just the biggest thing."

Di Lorenzo continues to train with her longtime coach Ann Grossman Wunderlich at Saddlebrook and has recently rented her own apartment in the Tampa area.

"I'm super excited about that," Di Lorenzo said. "Paid my first month's rent and I wasn't there for one day. So that was awesome. I'm happy to get an apartment, but it's unbelievable, just throwing money out the door. But it's nice to have a place, even if it is just for a couple of days, to go back to."

Last year Di Lorenzo told me one of her goals was to finish in the Top 130, although she said she remains committed to improvement of her game, not just her ranking. She ended 2019 ranked 122, so she is now setting her sights higher.

"I finished the year well and I was super happy with [the title at] that $60K," Di Lorenzo said. "I was needing some confidence going into that tournament and it was awesome to get five good matches out of that. Yeah, when I look back on the goals that I made, I achieved all of them. That was really cool to make them at the beginning of the year and to be able to see at the end of the year that I achieved all of them."

As for this year, Di Lorenzo said she would "love to be in the main draw of grand slams. That's probably around top 100, but I try not to focus too much on the numbers. But if I'm in slams, I'm playing the top players. That's what I want to do, that's why I'm here. I love to play on those stages but you have to work your way up there."

Di Lorenzo said she was inspired by Sofia Kenin's Australian Open title. It was only two years ago that Kenin played the Dow Tennis Classic, losing to Jamie Loeb in the second round, and now she is a slam champion.

"It's very inspiring, she was here two years ago and I practice with her and stuff, so why can't that be me?," Di Lorenzo said. "Any of us here. And not that she won a couple of rounds; she won a grand slam. It's absolutely incredible. It lets all of us players know that the women's game is very open and that anybody has a chance to succeed."

Di Lorenzo plays Catherine Harrison in the second round Thursday, a rematch of their quarterfinal meeting at the $60,000 tournament Di Lorenzo won last fall.

"We had a battle," Di Lorenzo said of her 6-7(7), 6-1, 6-4 victory. "She rips the ball and she's a very, very good player, indoors especially. I have to up my game for tomorrow, I know that. She's a big hitter and likes to take control, so I've got to get good depth and hit my shots on the biggest points."

Thursday's order of play is here.  Live streaming, with Ken Thomas providing commentary, is available here.

There are no Division I women's team rankings this week due to the National Team Indoor coming up Friday in Chicago, but the men's rankings changed quite dramatically after Texas lost to Ohio State last weekend. There was no consensus among the 12 voters in the ITA rankings, with USC and Ohio State getting four first place votes, Florida getting three first place votes and Texas getting one.  Baylor, who lost to Arkansas last weekend, dropped out of the Top 10.

To add to the confusion, the USTA rankings, which are done by a non-coaching panel, have North Carolina at No. 1 and USC at No. 5 in the men's ranking for this week.  Those rankings, which do include women's rankings this week, are here.

The ITA men's ranking release is here, with links to full lists.  The ITA women's individual ranking release is here.

ITA Men's Division I Team Rankings, February 5, 2020
(previous ranking in parentheses)
1. USC (3)
2. Ohio State (6)
3. Florida (2)
4. Texas (1)
5. North Carolina (4)
6. Wake Forest (7)
7. Texas A&M (9)
8. Stanford (11)
9. Columbia (13)
10. NC State (14)

Men's Division I Singles Top 10:
1. Daniel Cukierman, USC
2. Yuya Ito, Texas
3. Valentin Vacherot, Texas A&M
4. Sam Riffice, Florida
5. Richard Ciamarra, Notre Dame
6. Keegan Smith, UCLA
7. Gabriel Decamps, Central Florida
8. Joseph Guillin, UC Santa Barbara
9. Damon Kesaris, St. Mary's
10. Govind Nanda, UCLA

Men's Division I Doubles Top 5:
1. Robert Cash and John McNally, Ohio State.
2. Matej Vocel and Dominik Kellovsky, Oklahoma State
3. Mac Kiger and Simon Soendergaard, North Carolina
4. Andrew Fenty and Mattias Siimar, Michigan
5. Jackie Tang and Jack Lin, Columbia

Women's Division I Singles Top 10:
1. Ashley Lahey, Pepperdine
2. Anna Turati, Texas
3. Estela Perez-Somarriba, Miami
4. Sara Daavettila, North Carolina
5. Abigail Forbes, UCLA
6. Michaela Gordon, Stanford
7. Alexa Graham, North Carolina
8. Shiori Fukuda, Ohio State
9. Cameron Morra, North Carolina
10. Kelly Chen, Duke

Women's Division I Doubles Top 5:
1. Alana Smith and Anna Rogers, NC State
2. Elysia Bolton and Jada Hart, UCLA
3. Jessie Gong and Samantha Martinelli, Yale
4. Cameron Morra and Makenna Jones, North Carolina
5. Rebeka Stolmar and Marie Mattel, Central Florida