Displaying items by tag: ITA Kick Off Weekend
I just dusted off my live scoring page and added links for this weekend's ITA Kickoff matches - I still have more to add for Saturday/Sunday but they should all be there for today's matches. Unfortunately I don't see myself being able to do any kind of match recaps because I won't have that kind of time but I figured the scoring links/schedule were better than nothing.
The 2016-17 season may have just wrapped up but there's a pretty big event taking place this week that will help set the stage for the 2017-18 season. The ITA Kick-Off Weekend Draft will be held on Wednesday and Thursday from noon to 3 p.m. ET with the women taking center stage on Wednesday while the men make their picks on Thursday. The final ITA team rankings determine the 15 regional hosts plus they determine the order of selection for everyone else. The National Team Indoor Championship host get an automatic bid so the Washington men and Wisconsin women get the free pass.
There are only a handful of lower ranked men's teams (#26 Cornell/#44 Rice) that are skipping the event but on the women's side they'll be three top 20 teams, including No. 2 Stanford, that will take a pass. Notable women's teams skipping the KOW are #16 Texas A&M, #17 Baylor, #24 Tennessee, #29 Notre Dame, #43 Alabama, #48 Harvard, and #49 Cornell. There are some schools that are taking finals that week so that accounts for a few but for the others it comes down to either not wanting to play indoors or lining up matches that are deemed more winnable.
The 2017 ITA Kick-Off Weekend is officially in the books after the conclusion of the last two region finals in Miami and Berkeley. Miami (FL) was looking to advance to the National Team Indoors for a 13th consecutive while Texas A&M was looking to make a second straight trip. The match was originally scheduled for Sunday but rain pushed it back until today and then today's start was pushed back an additional 90 minutes due to a morning shower.
Texas A&M took the early 1-0 lead after winning at No. 1 and No. 2 doubles and then the teams split opening sets in singles. Miami's Estela Perez-Somarriba picked up a quick win at No. 4 when her opponent retired with an injury after dropping the opening set 6-0 but Texas A&M retook the lead when Rutuja Bhosale won in straight sets at No. 2. Miami's Sinead Lohan won in straight sets at No. 1 to tie the match at 2-2 but Texas A&M went back in front after Tina Bokhua won in two close sets at No. 3. Both of the remaining courts went to a third set and ultimately Texas A&M would win 4-2 after Macarena Olivares closed out her opponent 6-3 in the third at No. 5. Texas A&M did a good job with their recap so check it out for all the pertinent details.
This past weekend was the first chance for several teams to knock the dust off their racquets and it was also our first chance to see some of the freshmen and January roster additions in action. I'll go back through the weekend that was and give my thoughts on several teams and where I see them headed this season plus I'll highlight those with stellar KOW performances. I'll also take a look at the freshmen and January roster additions that could be difference makers for their respective teams.
So who impressed me the most - I'll start with Oklahoma, led by first-year head coach Nick Crowell, played some dominating doubles against No. 19 Michigan and No. 17 Illinois. The Sooners won all four completed matches and led 5-3 in the two that went unfinished. As good as the the John Roddick coached OU teams were the one thing they weren't very consistent at was winning the doubles point (.52%). In singles play we knew that Andrew Harris would perform well but only dropping four games against a quality player like Aleks Vukic was more just good - it was great! Crowell only had four players on the roster during the fall so he had to restock the bottom of the lineup and his four newcomers led by Jochen Bertsch and Adrian Oetzbach have definitely held their own. Bertsch clinched the 4-0 win over Illinois with a 1 & 1 win at No. 6 plus he had a break lead deep in the third against Michigan. OU didn't drop a set at all against Illinois and even though it was pushed pretty hard by Michigan all but one of the guys was in winning position. OU's strength is going to be its experienced top four but if it can keep winning the doubles point at a 70-80% clip and at least get a split at 5 and 6 they are going to be a tough out for most teams.
It's not uncommon for a No. 2 seed to knock out a host during the Kick-Off Weekend but when the No. 2 seed is Utah State and the No. 1 is TCU the idea of Utah State pulling it off was something that few outside of Logan could have ever imagined. TCU, which finished last year ranked 57 spots higher than Utah State, came into the match riding a 31-match home court winning streak while Utah State was only participating in a Kick-Off Weekend regional for the second time in school history. The Aggies, led by first-year head coach James Wilson, got off to a slow start in doubles after TCU jumped out to early break leads at No. 1 and No. 2. TCU's Jerry Lopez and Reese Stalder only needed 20 minutes to win 6-0 at No. 1 but the other two courts would tighten up with Utah State breaking back at No. 2 while No. 3 also went back and forth. TCU's No. 2 team of Alex Rybakov and Guillermo Nunez retook the break at 5-3 and then Rybakov served it out to win 6-3 which gave TCU the doubles point and early 1-0 lead.
I tell you if you are a fan of college tennis today was as good at gets with one close match after another as all 15 Men's KOW regionals were in full swing. There were two regional hosts that got knocked out in the first round which is something that doesn't happen very often. Another thing that doesn't happen very often is Iowa winning a match during an ITA Kick-Off Weekend because this was the first time since 2010 that the Hawkeyes had a high enough previous year-ending ranking to be selected to participate.
Iowa rolled into Lubbock on a cool and windy day and jumped on Texas Tech early by going up breaks on all three courts and would eventually pick up a 6-4 win at No. 1 and a 6-3 win at No. 3 to claim the doubles point. Each team claimed three opening sets in singles with Iowa taking the lead at the top three spots while Texas Tech went ahead at the bottom three. Only three of the six matches would finish in straight sets with Texas Tech picking up wins from Bjorn Thomson and Ronit Bisht at No. 4 and No. 5 while Iowa's Kareem Allaf defeated a less than 100% Connor Curry at No. 3 (dislocated toe).
The opening day of the 2017 ITA Kick-Off Weekend is in the books with several close matches but nothing that really qualifies as an upset. The day got started in Athens where Washington and Alabama went toe-to-toe for just under four hours. When you look at the box score below you'll probably wonder how it lasted that long and the reason is because Georgia's indoor facility only has four courts so the final two singles matches couldn't start until courts became available. Alabama jumped out to the early 1-0 lead after claiming the doubles point with a 6-2 win at No. 1 and a 7-6(4) win at No. 2 while No. 3 went unfinished with it tied at 6-6 in the tiebreak.
Each team would claim two opening sets in singles (remember four courts in play) with Washington getting the upper hand at No. 1 and No. 2 while Alabama took leads at No. 3 and No. 4. Washington's Enzo Sommer was first off the court with a 6-4, 6-3 win at No. 2 and a short while later Mitch Stewart would make it 2-1 with a 6-3, 7-6(0) win at No. 1. Washington's Gal Halak forced a third set at No. 3 and it looked like Jake Douglas would do the same at No. 4 when he led Alexey Nesterov 5-3. Nesterov held for 4-5 and then broke for 5-5 but Douglas broke back to give himself a second opportunity to serve the set out. Nesterov broke again to send it to a tiebreak and he would ultimately close it out 7-5, 7-6(5). Nesterov's win didn't actually tie it up because during his tiebreak Washington's Gal Halak closed out Spencer Richey 7-0 in the third set tiebreak so now the score was 3-2.
Six of the 15 men's regionals got started on Friday but that means there are nine more to go so here is my preview of those nine regionals that will play on Saturday and Sunday. I'll let everyone take a look at the first two regionals but to view the rest you'll need to subscribe for a small price of just $.33 a day. In addition to the match previews you'll also get to see all the live scoring links laid out for you. Each preview has current Universal Tennis Ratings as of 1/27/17 so that'll help you decide who will win each match. I went 12-0 with my predictions on Friday so let's see if I can beat that on Saturday.
There are four big weekends in the dual-match college tennis season and this coming weekend is the first one. There will be 15 different Kick-Off Weekend Regionals taking place throughout the country with 6 of them getting started on Friday and the other 9 kicking off on Saturday. The 15 winners will advance to the National Team Indoor Championships which take place three weekends from now in lovely Charlottesville, Virginia. Those 15 teams will be joined by No. 1 Virginia who gets the automatic bid since they are the host. Even though these regionals are qualifiers for the National Indoors there will be 7 that will be held outdoors with those being at UCLA, USC, Cal, TCU, Texas A&M, Texas Tech, and Florida.
There will be some competitive regionals that will be completely up for grabs and there will be some not-so competitive regionals where the top seeds will roll through both matches in less than two hours. All four teams will play two matches with the winners advancing to the regional final while the losers will play in a consolation match.
#5 Ohio State
#7 North Carolina
#26 Penn State
#32 Ole Miss
The official draw won't be announced until Wednesday, February 11th and even though there are still several high profile matches left to be played between now and then below is what the draw would look like if they used this past week's rankings. Some juicy match-ups:
#1 USC vs. #16 TCU
#8 Georgia vs. #9 Texas
#5 Ohio State vs. #12 California
#4 UCLA vs. #13 Columbia
#6 Baylor vs. #11 Duke
#3 Virginia vs. #14 Penn State
#7 North Carolina vs. #10 Illinois
#2 Oklahoma vs. #15 Ole Miss