Upcoming is the last weekend of the Big 10 conference regular season. Familiar faces are at the top of the standings as teams jostle for positioning entering the Big 10 tournament as well as potential NCAA tournament selections. To the surprise of no one, Ohio State is one win away from wrapping up another Big 10 title (13th straight). Illinois and Michigan have already locked up a bid to the NCAA tournament and are both in the driver’s seat to host a regional by virtue of being a top 16 seed. Rounding out the top four is Minnesota, who is also a virtual lock to receive an at-large bid in to the NCAA tournament.
An important bit to note is the postponement and subsequent cancellation of the Michigan @ Minnesota match from last Sunday which will have ramifications not only on Michigan and Minnesota, but Indiana and Penn State moving forward. A bit more on this in the Match of the Weekend section. Minnesota is one of the tougher places to play in the Big 10, with a very vocal crowd supporting the Golden Gophers so it was no guarantee that Michigan would have won. A win at Minnesota would have likely given Michigan a higher seed (1 or 2 spots) in the NCAA Tournament bracket, but also bumped Indiana in to a top 4 seed and first round bye of the Big 10 tournament.
After the second weekend of Big XII play, TCU has put themselves on top. The Horned Frogs extended their winning streak to 10 matches after wins at home against Oklahoma and Oklahoma State. TCU bested OU 4-2. TCU jumped off to a hot start, winning the doubles point and 4 of 6 first sets in singles. However the match was delayed an hour and eventually moved indoors due to lightning. Two days later, TCU proved to be too strong for Oklahoma State, beating the Cowboys 4-0.
OU and OSU also played matches in Austin, but were unable to pick up any match wins. Texas beat OSU on Friday, 4-0. Things started off looking good for OSU as they were up a break 5-2 on both #1 and #2 doubles. The doubles point then came down to #1 doubles, and Texas’ team of Leo Telles and Rodrigo Banzer saved matched points and eventually went on to win 7-5 and steal the doubles point for Texas. They carried the momentum to win the match 4-0. On Sunday, Texas seemed to still have that mojo, as things were pretty straight forward against Oklahoma. Texas won the Red River Rivalry 4-0.
UNC v Duke. ‘Nuff said. UNC beat the Blue Devils way back in February in the semifinals of the indoors (box recap) on its way to winning the event. Duke has definitely performed at a much higher level since then and that past match featured three three-setters which saw both Chen and Harris fail to win a match which is hard to imagine happening twice this season.
A couple of lower to mid-level conference teams who have had up and down seasons have chances to add a quality win to their resumes this weekend. Louisville started out hot and then cooled considerably but plays host to the Florida contingent this weekend and even getting one of these would really help their resume. The Irish face the same teams and one win would be equally big for them. Clemson has two tough road games, at Virginia and at Georgia Tech and if they could snag an upset Friday against the Cavs I am sure they would be thrilled. The Hokies and Panthers both have fairly impossible tasks this weekend, and barring some rest by some key players, they'll most have a winless weekend. Syracuse vs NC State and Wake Forest at Virginia are also very good matches, as is Wake at BC, but still, it is the final weekend and UNC and Duke are meeting for a rematch. In the words of Kid Danger, “feels good!”
We're down to the final weekend of the regular season in the Big Ten but before the guys close out the year we conducted a Q&A with one of the top seniors in the conference, Minnesota's Felix Corwin. The Elm Grove, Wisconsin, native started off his collegiate career playing at No. 4 in the singles lineup but by the end of his junior year he was up to No. 1 and has remained at the top spot throughout his senior year. During his freshman year, Corwin clinched Minnesota's first regular season Big Ten Championship in 20 years by winning the deciding match over Northwestern's Logan Staggs (now at UCLA) 4-6, 7-5, 7-6. Corwin has won 83 singles matches and 76 doubles matches in his time in the Twin Cities and his Gophers are on the verge of qualifying for the NCAA Tournament for the second year in a row and third time in the last four years.
CTT: Is it strange being so close to the end of your college career?
FC: It is a really weird feeling being almost done. It was an amazing time here at Minnesota but I am also excited for my future.
This past weekend was a good penultimate weekend of Pac-12 regular season tennis. I personally got to enjoy it by making the 3.5 hour drive up to Salt Lake City to watch the Utes battle two fellow NCAA bubble teams in Washington and Oregon.
On Friday afternoon the Utah/UW match was moved indoors as temperatures were well below the ITA minimum, infact there were some soft snow flurries in the air as I parked and walked into the indoor facility. Utah's indoor facility is pretty high quality with great viewing available behind each court
Utah won the doubles point but Washington would go on to win 2 straight singles points to gain the momentum
Third-ranked Vanderbilt, playing without its top player Astra Sharma (rib injury), captured its second straight SEC regular season championship in dramatic fashion on the road in Gainesville. The Commodores fell behind No. 10 Florida 3-1 and were trailing on each of the three remaining courts. Vandy junior Emily Smith trimmed the deficit to 3-2 by coming back from a break down in both the second and third sets to defeat Katie Kubicz 3-6, 6-3, 6-3 at No. 6. Vandy sophomore Christina Rosca tied it at 3-3 after coming back from 2-0 down in the third to defeat Josie Kuhlman 6-1, 1-6, 6-2 at No. 2. In the deciding match at No. 5, Vandy junior Summer Dvorak came back from a double-break 4-1 third-set deficit to defeat Peggy Porter 6-7, 6-3, 6-4. The Commodores are the top seed in this week's SEC Tournament in Knoxville.
Texas Tech, ranked No. 13, improved to 16-5 after going on the road and sweeping No. 51 Oklahoma and No. 11 Oklahoma State. The Red Raiders rolled over the higher-ranked OSU Cowgirls 4-1 on Sunday after getting a scare from OU on Friday. Against OU, Tech squeezed out the doubles point by winning tiebreaks at No. 1 and No. 2 and then extended the lead to 3-0 with wins at No. 4 and No. 6. OU swept the top three singles spots to tie it at 3-3 but Tech's Sarah Dvorak held on to win the decider 7-6(4) in the third. Texas Tech, which closes out the regular season with road matches at Iowa State and West Virginia, should all but be a lock to host a regional.