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Tuesday, February 6, 2024

North Carolina Aims for Fifth Straight D-I Women's Team Indoor Title; Michigan Women Defeat Florida in Top Ten Battle; Qualifying Complete at Men's $15K in Sunrise; Four Teens Reach Main Draw at Wesley Chapel W35

The Division I women's Team Indoor Championships begin Friday in Seattle, with a familiar program at the top of the 16-team draw: No. 1 and defending NCAA champion North Carolina. North Carolina has been a finalist an astounding nine straight years and has won the title the last four, so they are the clear favorite this year, with all their players returning from last year's title runs at the Team Indoors and the NCAAs.

The No. 2 seed is Stanford, which has often struggled at the Team Indoor, followed by Oklahoma State[3], Michigan[4], Pepperdine[5], Texas[6], Georgia[7] and NC State[8]. 

There will be no women's team rankings released tomorrow as that's the standard practice prior to the Team Indoor, but from the seeding, it's obvious that the 13 coaches voting were very impressed by Texas's 4-3 win over Georgia last weekend, as they are up from No. 10 in last week's rankings. Pepperdine also moved up a spot, despite their 4-2 loss to Oklahoma State; NC State moved down one, despite their win over Tennessee. Florida, who was No. 8 last week, was not seeded due to the Longhorns move into the top eight.

This is the schedule for the first round matches Friday, beginning at 9 a.m. Pacific, noon Eastern:

9 am Pacific
Michigan[4] v Cal
Stanford[2] v Florida

noon Pacific
Pepperdine[5] v Virginia
Georgia[7] v Ohio State

3:30 pm Pacific
North Carolina[1] v USC
Oklahoma State[3] v Auburn

6:30 pm Pacific
NC State[8] v Washington
Texas[6] v Texas A&M

Cracked Racquets will provide their CrossCourt coverage of the event at their YouTube Channel, with Alex Gruskin onsite for the call.

In the last top-10 battle before the Team Indoor, No. 5 Michigan hosted No. 8 Florida and the Wolverines took a 4-1 victory indoors at the Varsity Tennis enter. The doubles went to a tiebreaker at line 3 with freshmen Reese Miller and Piper Charney taking it 7-4 over Carly Briggs and Rachel Gailis. The first three singles matches finished quickly, with Michigan's Gala Mesochoritou blanking Alicia Dudeney 6-0, 6-0 at line 4, Florida's Gailis beating Julia Fliegner 6-4, 6-1 at line 2 and Kari Miller, Reese's sister, defeating Briggs 6-2, 6-2. With each team taking three first sets, Michigan was in good position up 3-1, but Florida was looking at another routine point with Malwina Rowinska leading Charney 6-1, 5-1. Charney came all the way back to 5-all only to get broken, but Rowinska couldn't serve it out in her third opportunity and Charney took the tiebreaker to force a third.

Michigan's Lily Jones had taken the first set from Qavia Lopez at line 5, but couldn't gain any advantage in the second set, while Jaedan Brown of Michigan had forced a third set against Emily De Oliveira at line three. Lopez did take the second set in a tiebreaker, but by that time, both Brown and Charney had 3-0 leads in their third sets and it was a race to the fourth point. Brown won it 4-6, 6-3, 6-1, with Charney at match point when the Brown clinched.

The two USTA Pro Circuit tournaments this week are both in Florida, with the men at a (now rare) $15K in Sunrise, and the women playing at a W35 (formerly known as a $25K in previous years) in Wesley Chapel

Although the Sunrise tournament was scheduled to begin Monday, rain postponed both rounds of qualifying until today, but they did finish all matches, including four first round main draw matches.

Americans advancing to the main draw: Kyle Overmyer, Axel Nefve(Notre Dame/Florida), Ryan Dickerson(Duke/Baylor), Drew Van Orderlain and Evan Bynoe(Cornell). Matthew Segura and Jaycer Lyeons(Tyler JC) received entry as lucky losers.

Three juniors received main draw spots via the ITF Junior Reserved program, based on their Top 100 ITF junior rankings. Two have already lost, with Matthew Forbes going out to top seed Toby Kodat 6-4, 6-4 and Max Exsted losing to wild card and No. 6 seed Alex Rybakov(TCU) 6-1, 7-6(3). The third junior reserved entrant is Alex Frusina, who plays qualifier Adam Jones of Great Britain Wednesday. 

In addition to Ryabkov, wild cards were awarded to Will Grant(Florida), Junior Tavarez of the Dominican Republic, and Henrik Wiersholm(Virginia).

In Wesley Chapel, four teenagers advanced to the main draw through qualifying: 17-year-old Akasha Urhobo, No. 1 in TRN's 2025 recruiting class, and three from the 2024 recruiting class, 17-year-old Lexington Reed, who has signed with Texas A&M, 18-year-old Mary Boyce Deatherage, who has signed with Florida State, and 18-year-old Taylor Goetz, who has signed with Pepperdine.

The other American qualifiers are Jaeda Daniel(Auburn/NC State), Maribella Zamarripa(Texas) and Meisha Kendall-Woseley.

The top seed this week in Wesley Chapel is Louisa Chirico, with Maria Mateas(Duke) the No. 2 seed. Wild cards were given to 18-year-old Ashton Bowers, Jada Bui(Cal), 16-year-old Alexis Nguyen and Allura Zamarripa(Texas). Bui and Bowers dropped their first round matches today.