Oracle Corporation and the ITA announced on Tuesday that there will be big changes to the final major event of the fall. The National Indoor Intercollegiate Championships, which began in 1978 and have been held in New York for the last several years, will be moving to the Indian Wells Tennis Garden and will be renamed the Oracle ITA National Fall Championship. In addition to a new name and new location the event will also be expanding the field. In the past it was a 32-player singles draw and a 20-team doubles draw but starting this November it will be a 64-player singles draw and a 32-team doubles draw.
The ITA is still working on the details on what it will take to qualify but it sounds like it will probably be similar to what was already in place which was a combination of the winners from the ITA Regional Championships, the All-American Championships, the Oracle ITA Masters, and those that were highly ranked. The first Oracle ITA National Fall Championship will take place on November 2nd through 5th.
West Florida Men & Barry Women Win NCAA D2 Championships, ITA Regional Awards, Choboy Out At NC StateWritten by Bobby Knight
While the NCAA Division I Tournament got started last weekend the Division II Tournament wrapped up with the West Florida men and Barry women bringing home the trophy. UWF won its fourth national championship, first since 2014, with a 5-2 win over Barry. UWF took two of three doubles matches to go in front 2-1 and then it added straight set wins from Gabriel Dias and Serdar Bojadjiev and Alfonso Castellano provided the clincher with a three set win at No. 6. UWF's recap has more details plus you can rewatch the broadcast of the final at this link.
The men's second round wrapped up on Saturday so Sunday belonged to the women with nine regionals closing out the weekend after seven finished on Saturday. 15 of the 16 regional hosts advanced to Friday's Sweet 16 in Athens with the one upset taking place in Waco. Baylor had already defeated Texas A&M once this season (4-0) but on Sunday they'd find themselves playing from behind virtually the entire match. In that first meeting on March 22nd, Texas A&M was without its top player Rachel Pierson so having her in the lineup today obviously changed the whole complexion of the match.
Texas A&M struck first in doubles with a quick 6-0 win from Eva Paalma and Domenica Gonzalez at No. 2 but it looked like Baylor would take No. 1 after Blair Shankle and Karina Traxler went up a double break at 4-1. Texas A&M's Rachel Pierson and Rutuja Bhosale got one break back to make it 4-3 but Baylor held for 5-3. A&M then held, broke, and held to take a 6-5 lead.
Meanwhile over No. 3, Baylor's Theresa Van Zyl and Rhiann Newborn jumped out to a 2-0 lead but Texas A&M's Stefania Hristov and Saska Gavrilovska broke Van Zyl's serve and then held for 2-2. A&M would go up a break at 4-3 after breaking Van Zyl again but BU immediately broke back for 4-4 and then Newborn fought off two break points to hold for 5-4. After a Gavrilovska hold for 5-5, A&M would break Van Zyl for a third time to go up 6-5 and then Newborn served it out at love to take it 7-5.
Sweet 16 Is Set - Illinois Rally Stuns Oklahoma State, Texas Triumphs Over Tulane, Pac-12/Big 12 Send 4Written by Bobby Knight
For the most part Friday was a pretty dull day but Saturday delivered us some gems including two big comeback wins. I'll start with the upset of the day which came in Stillwater when Illinois rallied from 3-0 down to stun No. 11 seed Oklahoma State 4-3. The Cowboys took the doubles point with wins at No. 1 and No. 3 and then each team took three opening sets in singles. Oklahoma State seniors Lucas Gerch and Lukas Finzelberg made quick work of their opponents at No. 3 and No. 6 to make it 3-0 but Illinois started winning all the close sets and got back in the match.
Aron Hiltzik put the Illini on the board with a 3-6, 6-3, 6-0 win at No. 2 which elicited a big fist pump from head coach Brad Dancer and then both Aleks Kovacevic and Zeke Clark would win their matches within seconds of each other to tie it up at 3-3. Clark came back from a 4-0 first set deficit to take the set 6-4 and then he won the second set in a tiebreak by a 10-8 score. Kovacevic had a chance to close his match out in straight sets but after failing to do so he won the third set 6-0.
Illinois junior Aleks Vukic, who missed yesterday's match against Drake, would get the clincher with a 7-6, 7-6 win over Julian Cash at No. 1. Illinois is headed back to the Sweet 16 for the first time in two years and in doing so that means that an unseeded team has advanced to the Sweet 16 every year since the NCAA field was expanded to 64 teams in 1999.
The opening day of the NCAA Tournament brought us a few good matches but for the most part it was blowout city as 23 of the 32 matches ended in 4-0 shutouts. All regional hosts won their matches 4-0, which was expected, but I was surprised that only one No. 3 seed was able to get past a No. 2 seed.
#42 Louisville was the No. 3 seed that pulled off the upset as the Cards knocked off #28 UCF in the lone 4-3 match of the day. UCF jumped out to the early 1-0 lead by claiming the doubles point with a 7-5 win at No. 2 and a 7-6(5) win in the decider at No. 3. Louisville came back strong in singles and picked five opening sets and both Parker Wynn and Clement Filho would win in straight sets to make it 2-1. UCF came back and forced three third sets and after Korey Lovett won at No. 1 and Mariano Porter at No. 4 the Knights led 3-2. Louisville's Nicolas Rouanet and Brandon Lancaster each went up early breaks in the third set on the two remaining courts and both would win 6-3 in the third with Rouanet getting the clincher. Below are some quotes from Louisville's recap:
The 2017 NCAA Division I Men's and Women's Tournament gets underway on Friday morning at 10 a.m. eastern and I've got all the numbers and interesting facts that you'll need to get you through the weekend. Past history tells us that it's an all but certain guarantee that at least one men's and one women's seed will get knocked out this weekend. Since the field expanded to 64 teams in 1999 (18 years) there have been 47 men's seeds that have been knocked out early which is an average of 2.6 per year. The women's side hasn't been quite as bad with 34 knocked out early which equates to 1.8 per year. There were four men's seeds knocked out early last year which was the most since the bloodbath of 2004 which saw seven get kicked to the curb.
The men's #14 seed has failed to advance to the Sweet 16 a staggering 7 times since 1999 while the #11, #12, and #13 seeds have went home early 6 times. The #1, #2, #4, and #7 seeds have advanced to the Sweet 16 every year so if you're Wake Forest, Virginia, USC, and Baylor you have to be feeling even more confident than you probably already were. The women's seed most likely to go home early is the #13 seed which has fallen seven times while the #16 seed has gone home early 5 times. The women's #2, #3, #4, and #5 seeds have never lost early and the #1 and #6 seeds have only lost once. Florida was the #1 seed that was stunned by Miami FL in the second round of the 2004 tournament.