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Wednesday, June 15, 2022

My Article on NCAA Division I Championships Possible Move to Single Site; ITA Men's Kickoff Weekend Draft Complete; Hui Beats Top Seed at Women's $15K in San Diego; Trio of Teens Advance in Men's Action

While I was in Champaign last month, I took the opportunity to talk to several coaches and players about the possibility the NCAA will hold future Division I championships at one site. That won't happen until 2027 at the earliest, with the bids through 2026 already awarded, but we could know as soon as 2024 whether the current process, which rotates the site each year, will continue.

In the resulting Tennis Recruiting Network article, published today, I focused on that one question, while in reality, two other decisions will also ultimately have an impact on how it is answered. The push to move the individual championships to the fall could be decided by late this year, which would shorten the length of the team championships and relieve the pressure of finishing the team event as scheduled. It also means a possible revisiting of the Super Regional format, which has only been used twice, in 2019 and 2022. If the individual championships move to the fall, a week would be sufficient time for 16 men's and 16 women's teams to compete at the final site, returning to the pre-2019 model of regional champions advancing to the final site. Due to covid, that model was brought back last year, and there's little doubt it gives the teams outside the Top 8 a better shot at experiencing that special atmosphere.

I understand that if there were an easy answer that made everyone happy it would have been discovered long ago; whatever changes are made are going to be criticized. 

Athens in 2010

I personally fell under the spell of Athens when I attended my first tournament there in 2007, with the Georgia men and Georgia Tech women winning the titles in front of enthusiastic crowds, and perfect weather throughout. Subsequent years had less ideal weather, and the four indoor courts on site, which will be replaced with a new facility for 2024, made for some very late nights. I think Athens has always reminded me of Kalamazoo, with its similar sense of history, and it wouldn't take much(maybe just a new indoor facility will do it) to throw my vote to Georgia as a permanent host. 

I have been to Lake Nona several times, but not for the NCAAs, so I can't speak to the experience there. As the article makes clear, the Tennis Channel connection there is a powerful asset, and balancing the experience of the fans who attend against those who might watch on television is not an easy needle to thread. Again, it's a complex issue, and I hope that enough compromises can be made to give college tennis the exposure it deserves.

I am currently running poll on twitter, so check that out if you'd like to weigh in, or respond in the comments if you'd like to go into more detail about which model you would favor.

The ITA Kickoff Weekend draft was conducted today, with four spots in 15 regionals filled for next January's event. I'm not sure why this draft is so far in advance of the actual event--it seems to me that a fall date makes more sense when there is a better feel for rosters--but it's always interesting to see what choices those who must travel make.

Wake Forest, the No. 9 seed, was the first site to fill up, with the Demon Deacons hosting No. 20 Middle Tennessee, No. 21 Duke and No. 23 Auburn. No. 11 Georgia was the second regional to fill, with the Bulldogs hosting No. 26 Louisville, No. 30 Miami and No. 33 LSU.  

The last two regionals to fill were No. 1 seed Virginia and No. 8 seed Michigan. 

For the complete draft results, click here.

The women's Kickoff Weekend draft begins tomorrow at noon.

After the top seed went out in the first round last night at the  SoCal Pro Circuit $15,000 men's tournament in San Diego, with Zachary Svajda losing to Colin Markes(Texas), the women's draw lost its top seed today. 

Princeton recruit Katherine Hui, a wild card, defeated top seed Connie Hsu(Penn) of Taiwan 6-4, 6-4. The 17-year-old from San Diego has now won a main draw match in each of the three SoCal Pro Circuit tournaments on the schedule; she will meet fellow 17-year-old Katja Wiersholm, a rising sophomore at Cal, who beat qualifier Daianne Hayashida of Peru 7-6(0), 6-2.

Although there is still one more teenager yet to play his first round match tonight in the men's tournament in San Diego, three have already advanced to Thursday's second round.

Learner Tien defeated No. 2 seed Gage Brymer(UCLA) 6-4, 7-5 in a wild match that saw the 16-year-old left-hander win ten games in a row after trailing 4-0 in the opening set. Brymer then won five games in a row to get back in the match, but Tien held, broke and held to get the victory. Tien won the ITF J1 San Diego on the same Barnes Tennis courts back in March.

Seventeen-year-old Alex Michelsen defeated qualifier Ryan Seggerman(Princeton) 6-2, 5-7, 6-3 to advance to the second round, and 18-year-old Ethan Quinn(Georgia) beat qualifier Joe Tyler(Iowa) of Great Britain 6-3, 6-3. 

Eighteen-year-old qualifier Bryce Nakashima will take on No. 5 seed Nathan Ponwith(Arizona State), last week's finalist at the University of San Diego $15K, later this evening.


Clark Coleman said...

There was some bitter criticism from college coaches when Georgia hosted the NCAA tournament umpteen years in a row. It basically put the Georgia program on the map, and gave them an advantage in recruiting as well as in postseason performance. Count me out of the group enthusiastic for a repeat of that debacle.

I would have the same opinion if any other Power-5 conference school hosted every year. UCF has benefited from the Lake Nona facility, but they are not likely to dominate NCAA tennis from a mid-major conference, so I guess we can all live with that. I bet the other teams in their conference are not too happy at having USTA money boost UCF, though.

USCwtennisfan said...

I second this great idea below for site of NCAA Tennis Championships. No hometeam advantage nor bad weather like Georgia. No heat or terrible bugs like Nona.

You could not find a better setting than San Diego.

Barnes Tennis Center, every year! Great weather, no need for indoor courts, plenty of courts overall. Close to lots of hotels, neutral site, 15 mins from SD International Airport."

Clark Coleman said...

My comment about UCF not getting too big of an advantage from hosting because they are not in a Power-5 conference will soon be outdated. They will join the Big 12 in 2023.

PA Tennis Fan said...

Agreed on UCF. It is unfortunate all of these smaller schools are leaving their current conferences and headed to one of the power conferences. A lot of the smaller conferences will have to join forces to stay relevant or they will just dissolve.