Wednesday, April 28, 2021

Junior Davis and Billie Jean King Cups Move to Turkey; Baylor Men Take Top Spot in ITA Rankings, Big Ten Continues to Lag; UCLA's Keegan Smith Seriously Injured

The International Tennis Federation announced today that the Junior Davis Cup and Junior Billie Jean King Cup, the international team competitions for players 16-and-under, will be played September 28-October 3 in Antalya Turkey.

The USTA had a three-year agreement to host, from 2019-2021, but after hosting in 2019, and last year's cancellation, the USTA was not interested in having the competition this year, given the extra expense involved with Covid protocols. I know just getting visas for some players was an arduous task in 2019, so adding more complications with the various pandemic restrictions was probably not appealing, nor was the cost of having the event.

The ITF's announcement says the regional competitions that serve to qualify teams will take place in the next several months; the North and Central American qualifying is usually around now, but I assume those will be later this summer. There has been no word on the status of the ITF's 14-and-under World Junior Tennis team competition that takes place in August in the Czech Republic.

What I believe are the final published ITA Division I rankings were released today, and at least in the computer and coaches poll, a consensus is beginning to form. Baylor has taken over from Florida as No. 1 in the men's rankings, after Baylor crushed Texas in the Big 12 final and former No. 1 Florida lost to Tennessee in the SEC final.

That consensus does not extend to the USTA poll, which has Virginia, No. 5 in the ITA polls, as the top-ranked men's team. All three polls for the women have North Carolina as No. 1, followed by Texas and Georgia. 

The NCAA committee has recently said it will not be following the ITA rankings as closely as usual, and in the list of the Top 20 teams below, I've made a note of the teams that have been approved as regional hosts. With the approval of 20 teams, four will be dropped and we won't know which ones until the selections announcement Monday. The Big Ten, which is playing its conference tournaments this week, has been approved for six hosts, but as of now, just one of the six teams are in the Top 16, the Ohio State women, who are 16th. Suffice it to say that the Michigan men will need a good showing at the conference tournament to enhance their chances for selection as they are ranked 44 right now.

CollegeTennisRanks has projections for the Division I men available here.

Division I Men's Team 4/28/21

1. Baylor*
2. Florida*
3. Tennessee*
4. Texas*
5. Virginia*
6. North Carolina*
7. TCU*
8. Texas A&M*
9. Central Florida*
10. Georgia*
11. Wake Forest*
12. South Carolina*
13. Southern California*
14. Mississippi*
15. Kentucky*
16. Mississippi State
17. Illinois*
18. Oklahoma State
19. Arizona
20. Arizona State

Texas Tech*[26]
Ohio State*[28]

*in running for hosting NCAA regional

Coaches Poll men:
1. Baylor
2. Florida
3. Tennessee
4. Texas
5. Virginia
6. North Carolina
7. TCU
8. Texas A&M
9. Central Florida
10. Wake Forest
11. Georgia
12. USC
T13. Illinois
T13. South Carolina
15. Kentucky
16. Mississippi
17. Ohio State
18. Mississippi State
19. Arizona
20. Stanford

Division I Women's Team 4/28/21
1. North Carolina*
2. Texas*
3. Georgia*
4. Pepperdine*
5. UCLA*
6. Florida State*
7. NC State*
8. Central Florida*
9. Baylor*
10. Texas A&M
11. Virginia*
12. Georgia Tech*
13. Florida*
14. LSU*
15. Tennessee*
16. Ohio State*
17. Northwestern*
18. Duke*
19. Auburn
20. Miami


*in running for hosting NCAA regional

Coaches Poll women:
1. North Carolina
2. Texas
3. Georgia
4. Pepperdine
6. NC State
7. Florida State
8. Baylor
9. Central Florida
10. Texas A&M
T11. Virginia
T11. Georgia Tech
13. Ohio State
14. LSU
15. Florida
16. Tennessee
17. Cal
18. Michigan
19. Northwestern
20. Duke

The individual rankings show a new No. 1 for the women, 2019 NCAA champion Estela Perez-Somarriba of Miami. The top 10 in the singles rankings demonstrate the problem with limited fall and out-of-conference play this season, with eight of the top 10 men from the SEC and seven of the top 10 women from the ACC. Playing and beating each other means everyone gets highly-ranked wins, making it hard for others outside the conference to break into this self-fulfilling cycle.

Men's singles top 10, April 28, 2021

1. Liam Draxl, Kentucky
2. Daniel Rodrigues, South Carolina
3. Hady Habib, Texas A&M
4. Valentin Vacherot, Texas A&M
5. Duarte Vale, Florida
6. Carl Soderlund, Virginia
7. Sam Riffice, Florida
8. Johannus Monday, Tennessee
9. Adam Walton, Tennessee
10. Gabriel Decamps, Central Florida

Women's singles top 10, April 28, 2021

1. Estela Perez-Somarriba, Miami
2. Sara Daavettila, North Carolina
3. Emma Navarro, Virginia
4. Katarina Jokic, Georgia
5. Kenya Jones, Georgia Tech
6. Anna Rogers, NC State
7. Abigail Forbes, UCLA
8. Natasha Subhash, Virginia
9. McCartney Kessler, Florida
10. Isabella Pfennig, Miami

The full list for men is here and women is here. Men's doubles is here and women's doubles is here.

Keegan Smith, the 2019 NCAA doubles champion and a senior at UCLA, was involved in a serious skateboarding accident on April 14th, when he struck a car and suffered a head injury that put him in the hospital for a week or more. I don't know much more about the accident than what he posted on Instagram recently (keegan_smith23), but I do know everyone in the tennis community wishes him a speedy recovery and an opportunity to excel on the tennis court again.


Curious said...

So, you’re saying Turkey has a better handle on costs & logistics of Jr Davis and BJK Cups?

Colette Lewis said...

Not exactly. I'm saying that Turkey is more comfortable with the cost/benefit equation than the USTA is.

SeminoleG said...

Gotta wave the BS Flag on this one. Tunisa, Egypt, Turkey have been holding ITF 15ks Womens and Mens with as large as 64 Qually and 32 MD matches for weeks. They have a Testing Protocol and if you look at the ITF calendar the "rest" of the world seems to have figured this out. Ad to that these countries have NO Slams.

The USTA has no interest in Tennis below the Slam level. It is evident in the scheduling and the administration of the current events. For example when you play a ITF event in the US you have no access to practice once you are eliminated, so you travel 100s of miles maybe have a bad match and then they send you on their way.

If the USTA cannot figure this out then maybe they should hire the TD in these countries who seem to have this wired. Wonder why we got 100 courts? Some places seem to figure this out with 8, YES 8 Courts.

As for the cost/benefit? When you are the Federation the BENEFIT is what you live for! It is everything. Plus Florida is Open for business.