Saturday, July 18, 2020

Nakashima Continues to Shine in World Team Tennis; Other Notes From Around Tennis

Brandon Nakashima, who turns 19 next month, has had no difficulty staying with the veterans in men's singles during the first week of World Team Tennis play.  The former University of Virginia standout is 3-1 playing men's singles for the Chicago Smash, with victories over Sam Querrey, Steve Johnson and Jack Sock. His win over Sock, who plays for the New York Empire, saw him capture a tiebreaker to force extended play, then take another game to force a Super tiebreaker, then win the last three points of that tiebreaker to give his team the 22-21 win. Nakashima's only loss was to Tennys Sandgren, who also dealt Nakashima his only loss at the Altec Styslinger Exhibition last month in Miami. For more on his win over Sock, see this WTT article. The Smash is now 3-1 on the season, in second place 1/2 game behind the Philadelphia Freedoms, who are 4-1.

Kim Clijsters' comeback has been impressive, with the New York Empires team member going 4-0 in women's singles. Clijsters has beaten Bernarda Pera, Danielle Collins, Sofia Kenin and Sloane Stephens so far this week. See this tennis.com article for more on Clijsters return.

The NCAA has announced return-to-sport guidelines, which are more pertinent right now for fall sports than for tennis, which is spring sport. The NCAA also adopted legislation for sports, including tennis, "that would exempt from counting against team limits need-based financial aid given by the school that meets other specific criteria and other school-given, merit-based awards with no relationship to athletics ability."  The NCAA also approved the move of St. Thomas(Minn) from Division III to Division I.  St. Thomas has both men's and women's tennis teams, so while there will be no net gain overall, there are now two more Division I teams, which is a welcome change. St. Thomas will compete in the Summit League in most sports, but will not be eligible for postseason play until 2025-26.

CNBC published this article about college football financials and what the consequences might be if, as is looking increasingly likely, football is not played this fall. I was not sure how much football contributed to overall athletic department revenue at most Division I schools; I'm not surprised by the percentage given here, but it does show just how precarious everyone's finances will be if it can't be played.

Jeff Wilson was announced as the new men's head coach at the University of Pacific at the end of last month, but after two weeks left the new job for personal reasons. According to Parsa Nemati, Wilson will return to the assistant's job at Dartmouth. On Friday, Pacific announced Robin Goodman as the new men's head coach. Goodman spent the past four seasons as assistant men's coach at New Mexico.

Once the USTA National Hard Court Championships were canceled, I was hoping to cover the new WTA event announced for Lexington Kentucky that same week. Unfortunately, I was told that the WTA will not be credentialing media for that tournament, so I will not be able to attend after all. With that tournament the first women's WTA event in United States since the shutdown, it was expected to have a strong field, and a few days ago the WTA announced that Serena Williams and Sloane Stephens have committed to playing it. The tournament begins August 10th. Stephens is playing World Team Tennis for the Chicago Smash, but she would have more than a week off prior to the Lexington tournament.

Several weeks ago I ran across this investigation of junior boys slam champions, which not only looks at their highest ATP ranking, but whether their age when they won their titles gives any indication of future success.