Schedule a training visit to the prestigious Junior Tennis Champions Center in College Park, MD by clicking on the banner above

Tuesday, September 12, 2023

UNC's Crawley and Texas's Spizzirri No. 1 in ITA Preseason Rankings; Stanford's Katherine Hui and Kyle Kang the Top Americans in Newcomer Rankings; Cracked Racquets and ITA Agree to Three-Year Deal

Every Tuesday after Labor Day, the Intercollegiate Tennis Association releases its preseason rankings, and every year I'm covering the US Open Junior Championships on that day, and unless it's a washout in New York, I don't have the time to delve into them until the following week.

There is some intrigue in the preseason rankings only insofar as it provides a clue as to who is taking the fall off; the preseason rankings are nothing more than the final May 2023 rankings with those no longer eligible and those who announced their intention to turn pro removed. Technically, if a player is not enrolled for the fall semester, he or she is not eligible to be included in either the Newcomer or the Preseason rankings. Occasionally this status isn't clear until after the rankings are released.

Prominent men with eligibility remaining not in the preseason rankings are Arthur Fery of Stanford(3 in the May 2023 rankings), 2022 NCAA finalist Ondrej Styler of Michigan(4, said he is not using his final year), Antoine Cornut-Chauvinc of Florida State(8), Andres Martin of Georgia Tech(9), Toby Samuel of South Carolina(10), Cannon Kingsley of Ohio State(12), Garrett Johns of Duke(18) and Stefan Dostanic of USC(22).

Eliot Spizzirri of Texas announced last week that he will be returning to Texas for his fifth year, and he retains his position at the top of the rankings.

Whether any of those players return for the dual match season in January may well depend on their results in ITF and ATP Challenger tournaments this fall.

The preseason Top 10 in men's singles:

1. Elliott Spizzirri, Texas
2. Chris Rodesch, Virginia
3. Johannus Monday, Tennessee
4. Murphy Cassone, Arizona State
5. Sebastian Dominiko, Notre Dame
6. Nishesh Basavareddy, Stanford
7. Jake Fearnley, TCU
8. Inaki Montes, Virginia
9. Justin Boulais, Ohio State
10. Alexander Bernard, Ohio State

The preseason Top 5 in men's doubles:
1. Cleeve Harper and Eliot Spizzirri, Texas
2. Ozan Baris and Max Shelton, Michigan State
3. Tadeas Paroulek and Zsombor Velcz, Baylor
4. Raul Dobai and Finn Murgett, Auburn
5. Robin Catry and Luca Staeheli, NC State

The women's preseason rankings has many fewer absentees, which has been the case for many years now; I suspect that some of this relates to the scholarship situation, with full scholarships for eight women, which can't be divided compared with 4.5 scholarships for men, that can be allocated over any number of players. Men taking the fall off frees up scholarship money for other players on the team for that semester; how the 2024 NCAA individual championships in the fall impacts that practice is something we won't know until this time next year.

The prominent women with eligibility remaining who are not in the preseason rankings are Diana Shnaider of NC State, who announced she was turning pro after her freshman year; Lea Ma of Georgia, and Chloe Beck of Duke. Ma and Beck are not expected to return for the dual match season.

The preseason Top 10 in women's singles:

1. Fiona Crawley, North Carolina
2. Mary Stoiana, Texas A&M
3. Alexa Noel, Miami
4. Fangran Tian, UCLA
5. Reese Brantmeier, North Carolina
6. Dasha Vidmanova, Georgia
7. Ayana Akli, South Carolina
8. Anastasiya Komar, Oklahoma State
9. Carol Lee, Georgia Tech
10. Amelia Rajecki, NC State

The preseason Top 5 in women's doubles:

1. Savannah Broadus and Janice Tjen, Pepperdine
2. Reese Brantmeier and Elizabeth Scotty, North Carolina
3. Fiona Crawley and Carson Tanguilig, North Carolina
4. Jaedan Brown and Kari Miller, Michigan
5. Kimmi Hance and Elise Wagle, UCLA

The top 10 newcomers lists are much less straightforward, with the ITA ranking committee members voting on the nominations they receive from the schools themselves. I thought it might be interesting to review last year's newcomer lists.

2022 men's newcomers:
1. Ethan Quinn, Georgia
2. Nishesh Basavareddy, Stanford
3. Michael Zheng, Columbia
4. Pedro Rodenas, Duke
5. Sebastian Gorzny, TCU
6. Top Nidunjianzan, Princeton
7. Zsombor Velcz, Baylor
8. Oliver Tarvet, San Diego
9. Samir Banerjee, Stanford
10. Martin Breysach, Baylor

Pretty good job by the men's committee, with Quinn winning the NCAAs, Basavareddy winning the Fall Nationals and Zheng and Rodenas named All-Americans. Nidunjianzan, Velcz and Tarvet did not crack the ITA Top 125 in the season-ending rankings; Breysach was ineligible for last season.

2022 women's newcomers:
1. Diana Shnaider, NC State
2. Reese Brantmeier, North Carolina
3. Daria Kudashova, Oklahoma
4. Nicole Khirin, Texas
5. Alexis Blokhina, Stanford
6. Madison Sieg, Southern California
7. Raquel Gonzalez, Oklahoma State
8. Nicole Rivkin, Texas
9. Mia Kupres, Texas A&M
10. Anastasiya Lopata, Georgia

A little less impressive forecasting by the women's committee. Shnaider and Brantmeier had great years, but Kudashova never played at Oklahoma. Khirin, who transferred to Texas A&M after playing No. 1 at Texas, finished at 38 in the season-ending rankings, Gonzalez and Rivkin played at line 6, with Lopata working her way up to line 4 for Georgia.

NCAA champion Fangran Tian of UCLA did not make the list.

This year's men's Top 10 newcomers:

1. Kyle Kang, Stanford
2. Dylan Dietrich, Virginia
3. Aidan Kim, Florida
4. Olaf Pieczkowski, Tennessee
5. Edward Winter, Pepperdine
6. Kholo Montsi, Oklahoma
7. Cooper Williams, Harvard
8. Jeremy Jin, Florida
9. Louis Bowden, Baylor
10. Derek Pham, Oklahoma State

Most of this year's list have stellar ITF junior circuit resumes, although neither Bowden nor Pham made much of an impression in that realm. Montsi, a former Top 15 ITF junior, turns 21 in November and hasn't played in nearly a year, so I'm not sure what criteria (UTR?, WTN?) was considered for him. Williams is surely too low, and his 6-0, 6-3 win over Kang in this year's Kalamazoo quarterfinals, and his ITF results over the summer should tipped the scales in his favor, regardless of Kang's ATP ranking.

This year's women's Top 10 newcomers:

1. Alexandra Vecic, Georgia
2. Katherine Hui, Stanford
3. Lucciana Perez Alarcon, Texas A&M
4. Eleana Yu, Stanford
5. Emilija Tverijonaite, Arizona State
6. Aysegul Mert, Georgia
7. Qavia Lopez, Florida
8. Piper Charney, Michigan
9. Valeria Ray, Vanderbilt
10. Luciana Perry, Ohio State

These rankings, which came out the same day that Hui beat Perez in the second round of the US Open are again a bit of a jumble. The long-rumored college tennis debut of Vecic, who is now 21 years old, may be immiment. I had never heard of Tverijonaite until I saw these rankings, which I realize is irrelevant, but it would be instructive to know what the basis is for considering a player; is it World Tennis Number, UTR, WTA ranking, ITF ranking, National ranking, or a combination of all of them?

I agree with many of John Parsons' comments on his recent no-ad no-problem podcast about the rankings and the newcomers; I was fully expecting to see Olivia Lincer, UCF's freshman, on the list; he makes the case for Duke's Shavit Kimchi as well. As last year's lists show, this is hardly an exact science, and the value is more for discussion than anything else, as the main benefit is receiving consideration for this fall's All-American Championships qualifying and pre-qualifying(for women) wild cards. 

In other ITA news, Cracked Racquets and the ITA have agreed to a three-year deal for providing coverage of the ITA's majors, beginning with next month's All-American Championships in Tulsa(men) and Cary(women) and extending through the National Fall Championships in November and February's Team Indoor Championships. The ITA announcement is available here.


College Fan said...

How about Vives (last year’s #5 for TCU) beating Montes (UVA) and Kingsley (OSU) in back to back days in Cary.