Saturday, May 23, 2020

Division II Alabama-Huntsville Drops Men's and Women's Tennis; Georgia's Jokic Wins Atlanta Exhibition; Riske Reaches UTR Pro Series Final, but Opponent Unknown; More Varsity Blues for Georgetown; Miller Loses Chance at Third High School Title

Just two days after Division I East Carolina announced it was dropping its men's and women's tennis programs, Division II Alabama-Huntsville has done the same. As with East Carolina, scholarships will be honored for those students who wish to continue at the school, rather than transfer to play elsewhere.  Alabama-Huntsville also is cutting its men's hockey team (which competes in Division I). The school's announcement, which frames the decision solely as the result of the Covid-19 pandemic, is here.  There is no telling which school will be next, but apparently Division I University of Connecticut, which has both men's and women's tennis teams, is facing pressure to discontinue some sports, as they currently have a huge deficit that preceded the pandemic.

There are a number of tournaments going on around the country that are not exactly exhibitions, but are providing a way for pro and college players to stay sharp while they wait for the ITF, WTA and ATP tours to resume this summer. One such event last week, in Atlanta, drew WTA Top 100 player Taylor Townsend, but it was University of Georgia junior Katarina Jokic who took the title, beating former Georgia Tech star Paige Hourigan 3-6, 7-6(6), 10-6 in the final. Hourigan had beaten Jokic earlier in the tournament, the only loss that the 2019 NCAA singles finalist suffered in eight matches. The format was not Fast 4, which has been the most popular scoring system for these events, but rather no-ad in standard sets, with a tiebreaker in lieu of a third set. For more on the eight-player event and Jokic's win, see this article from The Red & Black.

At the UTR Pro Match Series in Florida, Alison Riske overcame an opening match loss to Ajla Tomljanovic yesterday, beating Danielle Collins today to put her record at 2-1 and assure herself a place in Sunday's final. Tomljanovic had lost to Amanda Anisimova earlier today, so the day's last match between Tomljanovic and Collins would decide the other finalist. Tomljanovic and Collins split tiebreakers, with Collins finally forcing a third set on her seventh set point, after serving for the second set up 3-2, 40-0. It then began to rain, so the third set will be played Sunday, with its winner going on to face Riske in the final, while its loser will play Anisimova for third place. For more on today's matches, see this article from tennis.com.

Two news items about last year's Varsity Blues scandal have surfaced recently. Actress Lori Loughlin and her fashion designer husband Mossimo Giannulli have pleaded guilty, after a year of refusing to do so, and will be sentenced in August. They are accused of paying $500,000 to assist their daughters in gaining admission to USC as crew team recruits.

In a tennis-related development, another parent has been charged in the investigation into Georgetown's former coach Gordon Ernst. Peter Dameris, who has pleaded guilty, tried to gain entrance to the school for his son, who was not a competitive tennis player, but was represented as such. Ernst himself has pleaded not guilty, according to this Washington Post article about the case.

As with so many seniors this year, University of Michigan recruit Kari Miller did not get an opportunity to say goodbye to high school tennis, with the spring sports (girls play in the spring in Michigan, boys in the fall) canceled due to the pandemic. It's particularly disappointing for Miller, who won two state singles titles as a freshman and junior, because she had just this one chance to play on the same team as her younger sister Reese. And, according to this MLive article, her Ann Arbor Pioneer team had a good chance to win the state team championship this year as well.


Chuck Barnswell said...

Once again every player on the men's team of Alabama-Huntsville is from outside the US. Almost all the women's team, the same. It is ridiculous that college tennis coaches have let this get to the point where entire rosters of US colleges have no American players.

VAtennis said...

My sense is that tennis programs are being dropped a bit more frequently than other non-revenue sports. I have wondered how the colleges go through that process and it probably depends by university (i.e particular success in that sports, private backing, etc). I don't think that tennis is necessarily more expensive, in fact I would guess that the costs are pretty modest, particularly compared to some of the larger team non-revenue sports (swimming, baseball, soccer).

I agree that the lack of US players is probably the key rationale - say vs dropping golf, which seems to have much more US oriented roster