Thursday, 20 April 2017 08:00

Shorthanded But Resilient

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What would you call a situation involving a first-year coach who only has six players that have rotated being injured or ill to the point all but four of the regular season matches were played shorthanded as will be the conference tournament?

Bethune-Cookman calls it “Thursday.”

It’s business as usual for the Lady Wildcats (9-10) as they open the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference tournament against Morgan State (7-16) at the Folkes Tennis Center on the campus of Old Dominion University. With senior Debora Echeverria sidelines, Bethune-Cookman will have to find a way to dethrone South Carolina State with just five players.

Been there, done that.

The latest USTA Top 25 is out with both the Wake Forest men and Florida women remaining at No. 1 although their leads at the top are as slim as they've been. On the men's side Virginia is just two votes back at No. 2 while on the women's side Ohio State is only one vote behind Florida. There was no change in the men's top six though Baylor moved up two spots to No. 7 while USC dropped one spot to No. 8 and Texas dropped two spots to No. 9. Florida, South Carolina, and Oregon made the biggest jumps by coming up four spots each to No. 15, No. 18, and No. 21. Georgia Tech took the biggest tumble by dropping five spots to No. 19 after a tough loss at unranked Virginia Tech. Coincidently Columbia only dropped one spot to No. 19 after it fell to unranked Harvard. 

The women's top four remained the same though Vanderbilt shot up six spots to No. 5 after its big win over Florida last Sunday. Pepperdine came up four spots to No. 8 after defeating Stanford and Texas A&M came up six spots to No. 18 after defeating Georgia in Athens. Texas Tech and Auburn each dropped four spots to No. 10 and No. 22 after T-Tech lost to unranked TCU while Auburn fell to Arkansas. 

The Tulane men and TCU women were the only newcomers to this week's poll with each coming in at No. 25. The Kentucky men and LSU women were the only two to fall out after each lost a pair of matches over the weekend. 

On Tuesday afternoon the NCAA announced the host sites for the 2019-2022 NCAA Championships with the National Tennis Center in Lake Nona the big winner. The new "Home of American Tennis" was awarded the 2019 and 2021 NCAA Division I Championships plus the 2022 NCAA Division III Championships. The full release from the USTA is available here. Oklahoma State University was awarded the 2020 NCAA D1 Championships, which will be the first time Stillwater has hosted, while the University of Illinois was chosen as host of the 2022 NCAA D1 Championships. Illinois previously hosted four years ago in 2013 when Virginia won its first national championship on the infamous net touch by Puget on championship point for UCLA. Below in the table are the sites for the next five years with 2018 sites announced several years ago. 

Monday was a light day for competition with many teams gearing up for conference tournaments this weekend but there was one match of substance that took place in Tampa between No. 26 South Florida and No. 34 Memphis. Memphis put itself in great shape to take the doubles point after winning 6-3 at No. 1 and leading 4-0 at No. 2 but South Florida's Justin Roberts and Peter Bertran came storming back to win the decider in a tiebreak by an 8-6 score. In singles action, South Florida took opening sets at 2, 3, 5, and 6 and Alberto Barroso Campos and Vadym Kalyuzhnyy would close out their matches at 3 and 5 in straight sets to make it 3-0. USF junior Peter Bertran would get the clincher at No. 4 with a come from behind 1-6, 6-3, 6-0 win and with that win South Florida locked up the top seed in this week's American Conference Tournament which will be held in Orlando at the USTA National Campus.

Sunday was as wild a day as it gets in the SEC with four lower ranked women's teams picking up wins with two of those wins coming over No. 1 Florida and No. 2 Georgia. The SEC is the only Power 5 Women's Conference to have its conference tournament this coming week so many of these same teams will see each other much sooner than they had probably hoped. Sunday was a day of redemption for some teams on the men's side with both Oregon and Michigan overcoming tough losses to pick up a top 25 win. 

Georgia came into Saturday's match at Texas A&M with an undefeated conference record but a few hours later they'd be undefeated no more as Texas A&M played a tremendous match and came away with the win and the top seed in the SEC Tournament. Georgia was 16-5 in doubles coming into the match while Texas A&M was just 9-13 but it'd be the Aggies that'd get off to the quick start by picking up breaks at No. 1 and No. 2.

Texas A&M's AJ Catanzariti and Arthur Rinderknech jumped out to a quick 3-0 lead at No. 1 doubles against the ITA No. 2 team of Jan Zielinski and Robert Loeb and they refused to let Georgia get back in the match. Texas A&M's Jordi Arconada and Hady Habib went up an early break at No. 2 however Georgia's Paul Oosterbaan and Nathan Ponwith would break back to even it at 2-2. Arconada and Habib returned the favor and broke for 3-2, Habib held for 4-2, and then A&M broke again via a Ponwith double fault for 5-2. Over at No. 3, it stayed on serve until Georgia's Wayne Montgomery and Walker Duncan broke Max Lunkin to go ahead 5-3.

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