Wednesday, March 3, 2021

Top Seeds Ousted at Banana Bowl, Americans Kuzuhara, Bernard and Ngounoue Reach Quarterfinals; Few Changes in Division I Top 10 Team Rankings; Rain Disrupts First Round at Newport Beach $25K

Clervie Ngounoue, 2020 Les Petits As
©Richard van Loon, TopTennis.photos

With the tournament required to end by Friday due to pandemic protocols, the ITF Grade A Banana Bowl in Brazil has already arrived at the quarterfinals, with the first two rounds completed today. Three Americans have advanced: No. 3 seed Bruno Kuzuhara, No. 5 seed Alexander Bernard, and qualifier Clervie Ngounoue, while both the girls and boys top seeds lost.

Dali Blanch, No. 1 in the boys draw, lost to Marko Andrejic of Austria 6-4, 6-4 in a first round match today. Natalia Szabanin of Hungary, who has won two Grade 1s on the South American circuit, lost in the second round to Michaela Laki of Greece 7-6(5), 6-1.

Ngounoue has already won five matches in the past three days, with the 14-year-old posting two qualifying victories yesterday and two in the main draw today. She defeated No. 8 seed Mei Hasegawa of Japan 6-3, 6-2 and Brazilian wild card Ana Candiotto  6-0, 6-2 today to reach her first Grade A quarterfinal. She will play No. 2 seed Diana Shnaider of Russia next.

Kuzuhara played his first round match on Tuesday, so he had only one match today, and it was a short one. The 16-year-old Floridian defeated Matthew Donald of the Czech Republic 6-1, 6-0 in the second round.  Bernard had two matches today, defeating Stefan Popovic of Serbia 6-4, 6-2 and qualifier Jaime Faria of Portugal 6-3, 6-2. Although none of these results show it, a match tiebreaker is being played in lieu of a third set due to the condensed schedule.

Kuzuhara's quarterfinal opponent is unseeded Viacheslav Bielinskyi of Ukraine, and Bernard will take on No. 2 seed Juncheng Shang of China.  

The first round of doubles is being played tonight, with a two-match day required either Thursday or Friday for that competition.

The new ITA Division I Team Rankings are out, and there were no changes in the top seven positions in either the men's or women's polls. This is the first week that the lists have been expanded from 25 to 50 teams, although the rankings are still being done by poll, not by computer.

The Stanford women have returned to the rankings, after playing their first match of the season last week and blanking Santa Clara, but they are at 28, not at No. 4, where they placed in the preseason rankings. Duke moved back into the Top 10, with NC State dropping from 9 to 11.

In the men's rankings, Alabama and Ole Miss are now in the Top 25, while Florida moved into the Top 10, with Texas A&M falling to 11. Ole Miss defeated then No. 12 Georgia 4-3 in Athens over the weekend, so they moved up despite a 3-5 record.

Division I ITA Women's Top 10 Team Rankings 3-3-21
(previous ranking in parentheses)

1. North Carolina(1)
2. Texas(2)
3. Georgia(3)
4. Pepperdine(4)
5. Florida State(5)
6. UCLA(6)
7. Northwestern(7)
8. Duke(11)
9. Vanderbilt(10)
10. Ohio State(8)

Division I ITA Men's Top 10 Team Rankings 3-3-21

1. North Carolina(1)
2. Baylor(2)
3. Tennessee(3)
4. Virginia(4)
5. TCU(5)
6. Texas(6)
7. Ohio State(7)
8. USC(9)
9. Illinois(8)
10. Florida(11)

The USTA Women's Pro Circuit event in Newport Beach California got a late start today due to rain and before any of today's 13 first round matches could be completed, rain returned. The revised Wednesday schedule now shows only the six matches that were in progress.


fan said...

Why still no individual rankings this is becoming ridiculous. No individual NCAA?
Also watching duals, these kinds of strategic MTOs and bathroom breaks are really annoying. All perpetrated when they're trailing, 4-5, 5-6, facing 3mps.. unless there's a rule like pt penalty these shenanigan will continue, what a cheating sports tennis is.