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Tuesday, February 26, 2019

A Conversation with UCLA's Maxime Cressy; North Carolina Women Overtake Georgia for Top Spot in D-I Rankings; Oracle's Mark Hurd's Commitment to American Tennis

Jonathan Kelley attended the ITA Men's Team Indoor Championships earlier this month and had an opportunity to talk with UCLA senior Maxime Cressy, who has taken the tennis world by storm the past six months, particularly in winning the Cleveland Challenger. Until quite recently, Cressy was playing for France, but he switched to representing the US, an option available to him with his mother an American.  In this Tennis Recruiting Network article, Kelley asks Cressy about that decision, his lack of a notable junior career, how he managed to attract the attention of Division I college coaches and why he has adopted an aggressive, net-rushing style.  Once you read the interview, you'll get an idea just how big a role confidence plays in a player's breakout. As I read it, I was struck by the irony of Cressy's selection of Pete Sampras as a role model, as their personalities could hardly be more different. Cressy's recent success is simply one more example of the folly of trying to establish a one-size-fits-all approach to development, with game styles and timetables best left to the desires of the player and his coach.

The ITA Division I Team rankings this week demonstrate some of the quirks of the computer rankings, with the National Women's Team Indoor Champions Georgia falling from No. 1 to No. 2, despite beating Georgia Tech in their only match of the week. North Carolina, who lost a very close final to Georgia at the Team Indoor, moved into the No. 1 spot, with the Tar Heels getting wins over Boston College and Michigan.
The USTA/Tennis Channel rankings don't come out until tomorrow, but I'm sure that Georgia will stay in the top spot with those human voters.

Ohio State stayed at No. 1 in the men's rankings, and there was little change in the Top 10. Click on the headers for the full list of team rankings. There are no new individual rankings this week.

ITA Women's Division I Team Top 10 (previous rankings in parentheses):
1. North Carolina (2)
2. Georgia (1)
3. Duke (3)
4. Stanford (4)
5. UCLA (5)
6. Vanderbilt (7)
7. Kansas (8)
8. Oklahoma State (13)
9. Texas (9)
10. South Carolina (6)

1. Ohio State (1)
2. Wake Forest (2)
3. Texas (3)
4. Virginia (4)
5. Stanford (6)
6. North Carolina (5)
7. Baylor (11)
8. Mississippi State (9)
9. Columbia (10)
10. Florida (7)

Baylor's Hurd Tennis Center 
The ITA has had a variety of sponsors since I've been following the sport, but I think it's safe to say that its current sponsor, Oracle, has provided financial support well beyond the contributions of companies in the past.  

Larry Ellison, the billionaire founder of Oracle, is well known in tennis circles now after his purchase of the BNP Paribas Open in Indian Wells, but Oracle CEO Mark Hurd does not have that same profile, at least outside of the college tennis community. Hurd, who played at Baylor and for whom the Baylor tennis center is named, is the engineer of Oracle's commitment to college tennis and, as this article by Steve Tignor at Tennis.com demonstrates, he isn't confining his interest to college tennis, with jump starting American tennis also part of his plan. 

Tignor highlights the success of the first two recipients of the $100,000 Oracle Tennis Awards, Mackenzie McDonald and Danielle Collins, and the impact that the introduction of the new big money Challengers that Oracle has recently begun sponsoring. With the ITF's new World Tennis Tour off to a rocky start, it's not hard to see how the network of tennis connections Oracle is amassing could be used to become an even bigger player in a new direction for the sport.


Cocky and Clueless said...

That Cressy Interview revealed that he appears to be even more obnoxious and arrogant off the court as he is on the court. I didn't think that was possible. Here are just a few quotes that stand out.

Comparing himself to Pete Sampras: “I want to serve and volley as well as him - even better, because I have a big serve, and I’m really fast for my height so I really feel like I could really make some strong damage on the tour with my height and the way I cover the net and my serve. Sampras didn’t have a huge serve [Note to Cressy: most experts consider Sampras to be the greatest server of all time consistently serving over 130 MPH], he was placing it always very well, but I could also overpower players and move very fast to the net and just use my talent in volleys, too.”

On whether he expects to play singles or doubles on the tour: “Yeah, I’m going to play both. I believe I’m going to have success in both. In one tournament, it might not go well in doubles or it might not go well in singles but then I’m going to win doubles or singles. So doubles is going to help me always have momentum to win, win, win. And my body’s really strong, so I can do both eventually. If I reach the point where in singles it’s really going well and I’m reaching top 50 and I start winning grand slams or winning big tournaments, then I’m going to just do singles – sometimes maybe some doubles, some mixed doubles.”

On who is the best player he’s beaten so far: “Tim Smyczek, 180 in the world. And that’s just the first one, out of hundreds. Thousands.”

It's too bad that Cressy and Tiafoe apparently haven't figured out that arrogance is not a trait that attracts a lot of fans, endorsements or friends for that matter.

Marty Collins said...

Good for Cressy. A man with confidence. Sorely lacking in our fake modesty society.

Obnoxious said...

@M. Collings, Esq., your post was such an obvious troll. That's great advice to encourage Cressy to keep up his obnoxious behavior to make sure that he alienates as many people as possible rather than learn something. Even though that strategy will hurt his career, he should be satisfied that at least no one can accuse him of "fake modesty." He'll show them!