Tuesday, May 4, 2021

Kentucky's Draxl and North Carolina's Daavettila Top Seeds in Division I Singles Fields; Liberty Men Out Due to Covid Contract Tracing; Oklahoma State's Udwadia Resigns

The individual selections for NCAA Division I were announced this evening, as well as the seedings for the singles and doubles competitions. 

The NCAA tennis committee knew that it had several top players, especially those from the Pac-12 and Big Ten, who were either unranked or ranked way below the traditional cutoff in the mid-50s, so they had to evaluate those cases separately, making their task was much more difficult this year than usual.

It appears the men's ranking cutoff for singles(and again, I have to go by last week's rankings, as this week's have not yet been released) was 51, with No. 52 Blaise Bicknell of Florida the No. 6 alternate.

Players who were added to the men's field by the committee were Ohio State's Cannon Kingsley and John McNally, who were unranked, No. 118 Aleks Kovacevic of Illinois, No. 101 Siphosothando Montsi of Illinois, No. 60 Keegan Smith of UCLA and No. 63 Arthur Fery of Stanford. Smith is unlikely to play, of course, due to his serious injury from a skateboard accident last month.  Govind Nanda of UCLA, Axel Geller of Stanford and Nathan Ponwith of Arizona State are among the first five alternates, placed above those behind Bicknell in the rankings.

How the alternates are going to work, I can't figure out, with the announcement stating that this year only, alternates will not fill a place in the draw after this coming Sunday. With so many late withdrawals commonplace after the team event, I'm not sure what the procedure is for filling spots, but if anyone knows please leave a comment.

Although selections went outside the usual parameters, seeding did not, with the top 16 players in the computer rankings getting seeded, and thereby earning All-American honors. As I mentioned last week when posting the individual rankings, the men's selections were heavily skewed in the SEC's favor, with that conference receiving 25 (thanks to @Jwilsontennis for that stat) of the 64 slots, while the Big Ten got just five, four of those due to the committee's discretion.

Men's Division I seeds:
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. Sam Riffice, Florida
7. Carl Soderlund, Virginia
8. Johannus Monday, Tennessee

9-16 alphabetical:
Trent Bryde, Georgia
Gabriel Decamps, Central Florida
Gabriel Diallo, Kentucky
Luca Fomba, TCU
Alistair Gray, TCU
Matias Soto, Baylor
Henri Squire, Wake Forest
Adam Walton, Tennessee

The top four seeds in doubles:
1. Tim Sandkaulen and Finn Reynolds, Mississippi
2. William Blumberg and Brian Cernoch, North Carolina
3. Adam Walton and Pat Harper, Tennessee
4. Alastair Gray and Luc Fomba, TCU

The women's field also has its share of entrants who had to rely on the committee for entry: Georgia's Lea Ma[63], San Diego's Solymar Colling, Oklahoma State's Alana Wolfberg, Pepperdine's Ashley Lahey, the 2018 NCAA singles finalist, and Arizona State's Ilze Hattingh.  Duke's Meible Chi, ranked No. 39, is the first alternate, but the actual cutoff for the women appears to be 56, with Selin Ovunc of Auburn the last ranking in, although No. 59 Taylor Bridges of LSU also was selected.

The women's seeds did see some adjustments. Sara Daavettila of North Carolina moved to No. 1, past Miami's Estela Perez-Somarriba, the 2019 singles champion. No. 8 McCartney Kessler moved into the Top 8, over Natasha Subhash of Virginia. Iowa's Alexa Noel, No. 18, received a seed, as did No. 20 Katarina Kozarov of Furman.

Women's Division I seeds:
1. Sara Daavettila, North Carolina
2. Estela Perez-Somarriba, Miami
3. Emma Navarro, Virginia
4. Katarina Jokic, Georgia
5. Kenya Jones, Georgia Tech
6. Anna Rogers, North Carolina Stat
7. Abigail Forbes, UCLA
8. McCartney Kessler, Florida

9-16 alphabetical
Carolyn Campana, Wake Forest
Victoria Flores, Georgia Tech
Viktoriya Kanapatskaya, Syracuse
Katarina Kozarov, Furman
Alexa Noel, Iowa
Giulia Pairone, Florida State
Isabella Pfenning, Miami
Natasha Subhash, Virginia

The top four seeds in doubles:
1. AkvilÄ— Parazinskaite and Fiona Arrese, Kentucky
2. Sara Daavettila and Cameron Morra, North Carolina
3. Victoria Flores and Kenya Jones, Georgia Tech
4. Makenna Jones and Elizabeth Scotty, North Carolina

The first team to see their NCAA tournament experience cut short due to the Covid-19 virus is Liberty, the ASUN conference men's champion, who was making their first NCAA appearance in program history. The Flames were forced to withdraw from the tournament due to contract tracing. Florida Gulf Coast, the conference tournament finalists, will take their place, playing North Carolina State at the South Carolina regional. For more on this unfortunate turn of events, see this article from The News and Advance.

Oklahoma State will begin its search for a new men's head coach after it was announced on Monday that Jay Udwadia has resigned. Udwadia, who had been in Stillwater since 2012, took a leave of absence earlier this year, with assistant Scoville Jenkins serving as interim head coach. Oklahoma State will take on Navy in the first round of the North Carolina regional on Saturday.


Brent said...

Yikes. So who are the biggest snubs on the men's side? Just from a quick scan, it would appear that Nanda, Geller, Fenty, and Ponwith should obviously be in. Who else am I forgetting?

The withdrawal rule is dumb. They are going to be left with 9 holes in the draw at the start of the singles tournament. Just missed opportunities for other kids who would grab it in a second.

alternates said...

I agree they should extend the time to add an alternate longer. Since it's likely tied to COVID testing/management I'm guessing there needs to be a certain amount of time for a player to be in Orlando and get tested, etc. Regardless, not sure why it can't be up until say 5 days before the start of singles tournament. But maybe we give them a pass on this and save the major scrutiny for 2022; just getting to a semi normal NCAA Championship is a nice achievement for all those involved - committee, coaches, players.

AR Hacked Off said...

they could easily do a 72 hr COVID negative test for alternates to get them into Orlando or bring in the 10 alternates and keep them in a National Campus Bubble.