Center Dismissed at Texas; Florida Firepower Too Much For Wake Forest; Pepperdine Women Blank UCLA; TCU Toughs Out Win Over Tennessee; Tulsa Takes Out Oklahoma State; New Rankings ReleasedWritten by Bobby Knight
The University of Texas stayed in the news for a second day in a row after athletic director Chris Del Conte dismissed men's head coach Michael Center following the charges that made headlines all across the county on Tuesday. Center, who was in his 19th season as head coach at Texas, reportedly accepted approximately $100,000 to help an unnamed student gain admittance to Texas by labeling him as a tennis recruit. Associate head coach Bruce Berque will serve as the interim head coach for the rest of the season and I'm sure the story will be a major topic on tonight's nationally televised broadcast of Texas's match against No. 1 Ohio State which will air on the Longhorn Network. Below was the official statement from Del Conte via the University of Texas:
"After working with campus leaders to review the recent situation with Michael Center, we have decided to relieve him of his duties as our Men's Tennis coach," Del Conte said. "It's a very difficult decision, and we are grateful for the years of service that he has provided, but winning with integrity will always be paramount at The University of Texas, and it was a decision that had to be made.
"I've met with our team and assured them that we will do everything in our power to support them," Del Conte added. "I also plan to reach out to all of our commitments, signees and their families immediately. I'm grateful for Coach Berque's leadership during this challenging time. Our team is in the middle of a tremendous season, and I applaud them for how they've handled this situation, especially the way they responded in their match on Tuesday."
The Tennis Recruiting Network has an article with comments from one of Texas's top recruits for next year. The Longhorns 2019 recruiting class was rated No. 2 with four blue chips and a four-star recruit so it'll be interesting to see how many remain committed to Texas following the news this week.
While there were several matches played on Tuesday the big story was the names released in a federal investigation into a college admissions scheme where coaches were taking payments to label prospective applicants as athletes to increase their chances of getting accepting. University of Texas head coach Michael Center was arrested and charged with conspiracy to commit mail fraud and honest services mail fraud after reportedly accepting approximately $100,000 to designate a 2015 applicant as a tennis recruit. The unnamed applicant was accepted at Texas and subsequently enrolled in school but never played tennis. Center was placed on administrative leave by the school with associate head coach Bruce Berque named interim head coach. The charges against Center are linked here and and an article from Hook'Em is linked here. Center appeared in court on Tuesday and plead not guilty and was released on a $50,000 bond.
Current Rhode Island women's head coach Gordon Ernst, who was hired in August after serving as head coach at Georgetown for 12 years before departing unexpectedly, was charged with conspiracy to commit racketeering. Ernst is reported to have accepted approximately $2.7M in bribes to help facilitate the acceptance of multiple applicants over a six year period at Georgetown. Ernst has been placed on administrative leave according to this statement from Rhode Island. The full details of Ernst's case are at this link. The school website doesn't list any other coaches so I'm not sure who has taken over in the interim. Ernst appeared in court on Tuesday and was released on a $200,000 bond.
Full details on the entire case and all the charges brought against multiple individuals are linked here and there's plenty of other info out there all over the internet.
Texas A&M Hands Top-Ranked Ohio State Its First Loss; Mississippi State Wins Thriller Over South Carolina; UC Irvine Rallies Past GonzagaWritten by Bobby Knight
Top-ranked Ohio State suffered its first loss of the year on Monday night falling 4-3 to #28/#20 Texas A&M in a match that wasn't as close as the final score. The Buckeyes, who were playing without JJ Wolf (Drummondville Challenger), took the early 1-0 lead after 6-4 wins at No. 1 and No. 3 doubles but the Aggies stormed back in singles taking five opening sets. A&M freshman Noah Schachter tied the match at 1-1 with a 6-3, 6-3 win at No. 5 over Tim Seibert who was playing in just his third dual-match of the year and first against a Power 5 opponent. A&M took the lead with a 6-2, 7-6 win by Hady Habib at No. 2 and Valentin Vacherot put them a point away after a 2-6, 6-3, 6-0 win at No. 3.
A&M sophomore Barnaby Smith clinched the upset with a 7-6, 6-3 win at No. 4. The final two matches were played out with Ohio State's John McNally winning 2-6, 6-4, 6-4 at No. 1 while Hunter Tubert won 6-7, 7-6, 10-4 at No. 6.
Per the Texas A&M recap it was the just the second time in school history that the Ags had defeated a top ranked opponent with the other coming in 2015 against Oklahoma.
Wolf won his opening round match in Canada over former Cal Bear Andre Goransson and will meet former Virginia Cavalier Thai-Son Kwiatkowski in the second round on Tuesday. Ohio State's next match is set for Thursday in Austin against Texas so if Wolf were to beat Kwiatkowski and then the winner of Yannick Maden (Clemson '13) and Dennis Novikov (UCLA '13) he'd probably miss it.
Sunday Recap: Wake Forest Pushed by UCF; Virginia Survives USF; Florida Tops Mississippi State in Top 10 Showdown; Washington & Northwestern Women Avoid UpsetsWritten by Bobby Knight
Sunday was a day of near upsets with a pair of top 5 men's teams narrowly avoiding a big loss on the road. Second-ranked Wake Forest, who was playing without Borna Gojo (playing Canada Challenger) got all it wanted and more from #49 UCF.
The Knights took the early lead with 6-2 wins at No. 1 and No. 2 doubles and then the teams split opening sets in singles. Wake senior and ITA #1 Petros Chrysochos evened the match at 1-1 with a straight set win at No. 1 and freshman Siddhant Banthia put the Deacs ahead with a straight set win at No. 6. UCF freshman Trey Hilderbrand tied it back up with a straight set win at No. 5 but Wake freshman Melios Efstathiou won a close 7-6, 7-5 match at No. 4. Both of the remaining matches went three sets with UCF freshman Bogdan Pavel finishing first with a 6-3, 2-6, 6-4 win at No. 3 which evened the match at 3-3. In the final match on court at No. 2, Wake sophomore Bar Botzer broke UCF sophomore Alan Rubio to go ahead 2-1 in the final frame and then he added one more break to clinch with a 6-7, 6-1, 6-3 win.
Saturday Recap: Busy Day in the Pac-12; Duke Holds Off Michigan in Lake Nona; New Mexico Upsets Wichita State; Texas A&M & Georgia Score Top 25 WinsWritten by Bobby Knight
Saturday was a busy day across the Pac-12 with 8 of the 9 men's schools in action while there were 4 in action on the women's side. On the men's side #7/#6 Stanford and Cal finished off weekend sweeps of #21 Arizona and Arizona State. Stanford won a top 25 showdown over Arizona in convincing fashion with the Cardinal winning every completed set in singles. Cal came back from 2-0 down with four straight set wins in singles to defeat Arizona State 4-2.
#12/#21 Oregon overcame a slow start at home to defeat Washington 5-1. The Ducks dropped the doubles point but won a lot of close first sets and used that as a springboard to collect four straight set wins.
#19/#12 USC was playing without one of its top players, Daniel Cukierman, but managed to pull through on the road over #41 Utah 4-2. The Trojans jumped out to a 3-0 lead but Utah won the top two spots in straight sets to pull within 3-2. Both of the remaining matches went three sets and it'd be USC freshman Jack Sands clinching at No. 5 with a 6-4, 4-6, 7-5 win while the match at No. 3 went unfinished with Utah junior Slava Shainyan leading 6-5.
Friday Recap: Kentucky Men Upset Alabama; Alabama Women Upset Kentucky, Cal Beats Arizona; Georgia Women Hold off LSUWritten by Bobby Knight
The two biggest upsets of the day on Friday took place between Alabama and Kentucky. The Kentucky men clawed past ITA #17/USTA #24 Alabama 5-2 in Lexington. The Wildcats took the doubles point with a 6-2 win at No. 2 and a 6-3 win at No. 3 and then won the first four singles matches to finish with the wins at No. 1, No. 2, and No. 4 coming in straight sets.
"We had a big team meeting last week about the standards and the culture that we had to set heading into the SEC season," said Kentucky volunteer assistant coach Mark Goldberg. "I think this was a big one, protecting our home, setting our standards high. We came out, took care of our business, and we protected our home."
The Alabama women welcomed #18 Kentucky to Tuscaloosa and rolled to a 4-1 win. The Tide took the doubles point and added straight set wins at No. 2, No. 4 and No. 6 while Kentucky scratched out a win at No. 5.
"We kept fighting all night and it led to a big confidence boost for us, we need to use that momentum," head coach Jenny Mainz stated. "We know what we're capable of accomplishing and previously had not been able to turn the corner and we said we just need that one to get over the hump. It was a big win for us tonight."