Wednesday, April 14, 2021

Navarro, Draxl Top New ITA D-I Singles Rankings, North Carolina Women, Florida Men Remain No. 1; Brooksby, Khan and Nakashima Reach Quarterfinals at Challengers

The latest ITA Division I rankings released today feature two rankings, computer and poll, for teams, and computer rankings for singles and doubles. The ITA is still struggling with these rankings, which isn't surprising given the lack of consistent play due to individual schools and conferences Covid protocols, but their latest explanation for publishing two different rankings doesn't reveal much. It's clear that the ITA is hearing from coaches with strong opinions on both sides of the issue, particularly when it says:

"A simple solution that attempts to balance all of the various interests and includes consensus support is currently not available."

The team rankings are all over the place, although it's not obvious in the Top 10.  Take the Michigan men, for example, who I follow more closely than other teams due to geography. The computer rankings show Michigan at 30, the coaches poll at 19, and the current Tennis Channel/USTA poll has them at 7.  That's quite a disparity. I'm sure there are other similar examples; feel free to post a comment if you have one. Again this week I am providing side-by-side comparisons of the poll and computer rankings for the Top 10. The full list for men is here; for women is here.

Men's Top 10, poll on left, computer on right.

Women's Top 10, poll on left, computer on right

In the individual rankings, Ohio State's Cannon Kingsley is undefeated this year in singles, 23-0, but his ranking is 117, far too low to make the NCAA field.  Whatever the reason behind that, it's obvious to anyone with a pulse that Kingsley is one of the top college players in the country, as is No. 36 Alexa Graham of North Carolina, who won the only traditional ITA major held in the 2020-21 season. It isn't good enough for the ITA to simply supply the NCAA committee with their computer rankings. They must advocate for their best players to be in the NCAA fields, and if they need to use UTR to assist with that assessment, so be it. 

Here are the Top 10 and Top 5 in singles and doubles. Click the heading for the full list.

Top 10 Division I Men's Singles April 14, 2021
1. Liam Draxl, Kentucky
2. Daniel Rodrigues, South Carolina
3. Gabriel Decamps, Central Florida
4. Duarte Vale, Florida
5. Valentin Vacherot, Texas A&M
6. Carl Soderlund, Virginia
7. Hady Habib, Texas A&M
8. Alastair Gray, TCU
9. Sam Riffice, Florida
10. Johannus Monday, Tennessee

Top 5 Men's Doubles
1. Tim Sandkaulen and Finn Reynolds, Mississippi
2. Will Davies and Oliver Okonkwo, Iowa
3. William Blumberg and Brian Cernoch, North Carolina
4. Alastair Gray and Luc Fomba, TCU
5. Riley Smith and Daniel Cukierman, Southern California

Top 10 Division I Women's Singles April 14, 2021
1. Emma Navarro, Virginia
2. Sara Daavettila, North Carolina
3. Estela Perez-Somarriba, Miami
4. Katarina Jokic, Georgia
5. Anna Rogers, NC State
6. Kenya Jones, Georgia Tech
7. Abigail Forbes, UCLA
8. McCartney Kessler, Florida
9. Natasha Subhash, Virginia
10. Giulia Pairone, Florida State

Top 5 Women's Doubles
1. Akvile Parazinskaite and Fiona Arrese, Kentucky
2. Sara Daavettila and Cameron Morra, North Carolina
3. Victoria Flores and Kenya Jones, Georgia Tech
4. Marlee Zein and McCartney Kessler, Florida
5. Andrea Garcia and Nandini Das, Florida State

Today's second round action at the ATP Challenger 80 in Orlando featured wins by two young Americans, who will now play each other. A day after securing his first main draw Challenger victory, 19-year-old Zane Khan defeated No. 2 seed and ATP 108 Yasutaka Uchiyama of Japan 7-6(5), 7-6(5) in two hours and 18 minutes. rebounding after failing to serve out the first set at 5-4 and failing to hold on to a 5-1 lead in the first set tiebreaker. It was Uchiyama who couldn't serve out the set in the second, with Khan breaking for 5-all, and although there were anxious moments, he managed to navigate them better than his more experienced opponent. 

Brooksby defeated qualifier Altug Celikbilek of Turkey 6-1, 6-3 to run his 2021 Challenger record to 11-2.  Bjorn Fratangelo lost in the second round today to former UNC star Brayden Schnur of Canada 6-3, 7-6(2). 

Six other Americans will be in action Thursday, with two all-US second round battles. Live streaming, with Mike Cation providing commentary, is available here.

Brandon Nakashima, who won the previous Challenger played in Orlando, in November, opted instead for the red clay in Serbia, where he has reached the quarterfinals at the 125 level event. Nakashima defeated No. 7 seed Hugo Dellien of Bolivia 6-2, 6-2 today and will play unseeded Liam Broady of Great Britain in the quarterfinals Thursday.


Ricky said...

Curious how they'll do qualification for NCAA singles and doubles championships this year. Seems like it might make sense to go by UTR. Or a combo of UTR and the ITA rankings -- since there's such limited data to go on.

fan said...

At least Graham will play NCAA singles regardless.
On the other hand, following players who played well against Thamchaiwat won't probably?

2/27/21 Eryn Cayetano University of Southern California Won 7-5, 7-6(4) Away No No Dual Match 2
2/26/21 Ashley Lahey Pepperdine 6-4, 0-6, 2-0 Away No No Dual Match 2
2/6/21 #91 Maria Shusharina Northwestern University 5-5 Home No No Dual Match 1
2/5/21 #124 Elysia Bolton UCLA 4-6, 1-0 Home No No Dual Match 1

Pac 12 and the West effectively shut out, especially in doubles, and who benefits, ACC; ranking inflation! Pac 12 electing to disregard the century-old tradition at Ojai, biting them back in the ass, too! Because in the old format Gibbs vs Ahn was possible; now, only #1 players will have a crack at Forbes at Barnes lol, and that's considering that she'll even 'deign' to play in the 1st place!

Individual NCAAs this season will always have a question mark attached, just like NFC; not enough quality contenders.

challenging situation said...

Looks like some shots have been fired on twitter today by Kingsley over this. I truly sympathize with him, but I don't know what the answer is. Everyone is playing with the same ranking formula on this. Just don't know how a No. 2 player on a top 10 team can go 23 matches and play so few ranked opponents. Must be the lack of national play during the Fall for some of these guys. I don't know what formula you can use or adjust to address this. Not really comfortable with a committee eventually saying "oh, we know he's good, let's make him the 50th ranked player." I'm sure people are going to come down on the ITA on this, but they are clearly trying their best to work through this and listen. It's (hopefully) a one-in-a-million scenario where I don't see how you could have planned for this given the ever moving target of college sports during the pandemic.

SeminoleG said...

As an outsider why not expand the Field? Consider all the major sports kinda figured this out. Volleyball shrunk its field and some other sports had a few one-offs but over all they got close. Just expand the field and give 8,16 ?? at large births to those lost in the shuffle.

fan said...

forgot to mention this but one reason Graham's ranking is so low, is that they don't count NFC results, that's also why semifinalist Lahey is NR. Don't understand why they don't count it.

challenging situation said...

@seminole - gotta say that's a pretty good idea, solves problem. Just don't think they will want to go in the direction of bringing more people to the final site due to COVID.
In hindsight I think this would have been be a year to have regional not national rankings determine the field due to the travel restrictions with COVID. Have 8 regions and each region gets 5 players in (based on how they perform regionally). Remaining 24 are selected straight from the national rankings. It would help Pac-10 and Big 10. Even as I type this there's still some issues with this (who comes out of the Northeast with Ivy not playing?). Several years ago the NCAA actually did select 4 players (and 2 doubles) per region to the singles/doubles tournaments. It was kind of a non isssue because most every region had that many players ranked in the top 64, but you would have a couple regions like the Northeast and Mountain areas where players from outside the top 64 would be selected based on their regional standing. This is going back 20+ years ago.
Another thought - if a player from Jacksonville U was 23-0 and ranked No. 115 would anyone be trying to re-do the ranking system?
Last comment - UTR counts non college results. No college sport allows that.