A New Era of Collegiate Tennis Rankings

We’ve entered a new world of rankings when it comes to college tennis.

The Oracle/ITA Team Rankings are using a new starting format this spring where they only publish the top-25, plus those getting votes. After the computer takes over, they will only be publishing the top-50. (source: 2016-2017 ITA Division I Ranking Manual)

Let me take a few minutes to describe what is going to happen when the rankings are published on February 21.

I think we can all assume that the 16 teams at the indoors will acount for 16 teams in the final human-generated Feb 8 (men)/Feb 15 (women) ballots. What is unique here is that the women still have a ballot-based ranking AFTER the Indoors, while the men don’t.

Where it gets interesting is who the other nine teams on each ballot are that make up the rest of the rankings.

Let’s assume about 25 additional teams get votes for those nine places. Right now only 15 teams essentially get those spots. This means that only 41 teams will be mentioned in the final ballot vote. That would mean 25 ranked teams and 16 receiving votes. (My personal guess is that it won’t be that many)

Now the first computer rankings will be based on best 4 wins and all losses. How many teams will have wins over those 41 teams outside those 41? We know 45 teams will win at least one match at the kickoff weekend. But 15 of those will be wins versus teams probably on the outside.

Every win outside of the 41 will be considered an unranked win (4 points). This means that a majority of the rankings will be four win teams over ‘unranked’ teams, likely on the road with the fewest losses or losses against ranked teams.

That’s quite a few teams with 16 to 17.6 points divided by (four plus the loss points). I am guessning we may some not-so-familiar names in those first computer-generated rankings. We definitely would if they published the full 125.

Now, just to clarify things, I am not suggesting this is bad or these rankings stink. I am just saying you should expect the first rankings to continue to look a little different than we are used to seeing. I even suggest this may be more exciting.

The USTA will also be publishing a top-25 that will be a ballot all season long (beginning after the Indoors). For full disclosure, I am voting in that poll.

All-in-all, this should be exciting for college tennis and hopefully more media outlets will pick up on one or more of these polls.

Now let’s get to some tennis!

A new approach to ranking singles players in the fall

I decided awhile back that the way players are ranked in the fall by the ITA is a bit arbitrary. I am not trying to be critical of the ITA, because trying to rank singles players across the country before they’ve played a single match is not only extremely difficult, not only from a pure mechanical standpoint, but also politically.

There are kids now who don’t even play ITA tennis in the fall and stick to the plethora of Futures and Challengers that make up the Oracle USTA Pro Circuit Collegiate Series. Some don’t play at all at are busy either catching up on studies or rehabbing (or both). My idea was to create a system that uses only results between college players for the school year and that’s it. If you are ranking players and this determines whether they get into the NCAA’s or not, that should be the only thing that matters.

With that in mind, I decided to create my own ranking system for the men. Here was my criteria:

  1. Any and all players who played a D1 match this fall were eligible, as were any D1 known players who played on the Pro Circuit from the last week of August until last week in Tallahassee.
  2. Only matches between D1 players were eligible. I know this limits the number of matches that counted on the circuit, but that’s the only way to be consistent.
  3. To maintain some baseline consistency, I used my system for the 2015-16 school year (applying the same rules) and created prior rankings for those returning this fall. I felt that this was important to give upperclassmen more weight. I did not use any previous year Pro Circuit matches, only NCAA D1 matches.
  4. Matches were weighted. Regular matches were standard weight, while Futures and USTA/ITA Regionals matches counted a little more and Challengers, The All-American and Indoors counted a little more.

This system is not perfect. I will be the first to acknowledge that fact, but I do think they create a fair picture of the collegiate tennis scene heading into January. Players may be ranked a tad too low (Cameron Norrie), but still within a respectable range. There will be players missing (Juan Benitez and George Goldhoff, among others) but if you don’t play, I am not sure there’s a whole lot we can do. There will also be players who went on great Pro Circuit runs, but don’t get full credit (JC Argone) because they didn’t play any current collegians.

There also may be a few new names in there. Some are probably deserved and a few too high, but winning lots of matches gets rewarded in this system. Once players have more matches, this should correct itself quickly.

I also identified three players in the Oracle/ITA Rankings who didn’t play any tennis this fall: Andrew Harris (Oklahoma), Logan Staggs (UCLA) and Paul Oosterbaan (Georgia). All three seem to be nursing some sort of injury. George Goldhoff played one ITF tournament in Canada, but didn’t get any qualifying matches. If I scaled their 2015-16 rankings, Oosterbaan and Harris would end up in the lower-30’s, Goldhoff in the lower 60’s and Staggs out near 120, on the list below.

With almost 2500 eligible players, I am only going to show the top-125 for now, like the ITA. Records indicate matches vs. D1 players this fall.

FALL DIVISION I SINGLES RANKINGS

RK PLAYER (TEAM) RECORD
1 Petros Chrysochos (Wake Forest University) 9-1
2 Mikael Torpegaard (Ohio State University) 7-2
3 Christian Sigsgaard (University of Texas) 16-3
4 Mike Redlicki (University of Arkansas) 17-2
5 Brandon Holt (University of Southern California) 17-3
6 Nuno Borges (Mississippi State University) 14-3
7 Cameron Norrie (TCU) 3-0
8 Herkko Pollanen (Ohio State University) 10-2
9 Peter Bertran (University of South Florida) 14-3
10 Christopher Eubanks (Georgia Tech) 7-3
11 Skander Mansouri (Wake Forest University) 12-3
12 Gage Brymer (UCLA) 12-3
13 Tom Fawcett (Stanford University) 7-4
14 Billy Griffith (California) 11-2
15 Alfredo Perez (University of Florida) 7-3
16 Alex Keyser (Columbia University) 16-4
17 Filip Bergevi (California) 11-2
18 Hugo Di Feo (Ohio State University) 6-3
19 Jimmy Bendeck (Baylor University) 11-3
20 Christian Seraphim (Wake Forest University) 13-2
21 Strong Kirchheimer (Northwestern University) 10-5
22 Jose Salazar (University of Arkansas) 11-3
23 Thomas Laurent (University of Oregon) 10-2
24 Florian Lakat (California) 8-3
25 Andre Goransson (California) 13-4
26 Nicolas Alvarez (Duke University) 9-4
27 Gustav Hansson (University of Mississippi) 9-3
28 Henrik Wiersholm (University of Virginia) 1-0
29 Yuya Ito (University of Texas) 12-7
30 Jacob Dunbar (University of Richmond) 11-3
31 Lukas Finzelberg (Oklahoma State University) 9-3
32 Emil Reinberg (University of Georgia) 20-4
33 Joseph Di Giulio (UCLA) 11-2
34 Dylan King (Yale University) 13-2
35 Josh Hagar (University of Notre Dame) 9-4
36 JC Aragone (University of Virginia) 11-4
37 Justin Roberts (University of South Florida) 10-3
38 Rob Bellamy (University of Southern California) 13-4
39 Arthur Rinderknech (Texas A&M University) 8-3
40 Joshua Peck (North Carolina) 10-3
41 Jolan Cailleau (Texas Tech University) 12-5
42 Spencer Papa (University of Oklahoma) 9-3
43 Connor Curry (Texas Tech University) 9-3
44 Timo Stodder (University of Tennessee) 12-4
45 Robert Kelly (North Carolina) 7-4
46 Aron Hiltzik (University of Illinois) 5-1
47 Alberto Barroso-Campos (University of South Florida) 8-3
48 Ronnie Schneider (North Carolina) 8-5
49 Jack Findel-Hawkins (University of North Florida) 9-5
50 Nick Stachowiak (Duke University) 11-4
51 Wayne Montgomery (University of Georgia) 13-5
52 Thibault Forget (University of Southern California) 11-4
53 Ben Donovan (Cal Poly) 11-3
54 Nikola Samardzic (LSU) 9-4
55 Josh Pompan (University of Pennsylvania) 16-4
56 Harrison Scott (University of Texas) 10-2
57 Constantin Schmitz (Tulane University) 8-3
58 Jordan Belga (University of Florida) 12-5
59 Daniel Valent (Vanderbilt University) 10-4
60 Victor Pham (Columbia University) 10-4
61 Diego Quiroz (Winthrop University) 14-2
62 Kai Wehnelt (Utah State University) 14-4
63 Gabriel Friedrich (University of South Carolina) 12-5
64 Nick Horton (North Carolina State) 7-3
65 Filip Vittek (University of San Diego) 7-2
66 Chema Carranza (University of Wisconsin) 12-1
67 Jefta Kecic (University of North Florida) 9-6
68 Yancy Dennis (University of South Carolina) 9-2
69 Rodrigo Banzer (University of Texas) 7-4
70 Haru Inoue (Wichita State University) 10-4
71 Trey Yates (University of Kentucky) 8-3
72 Julius Tverijonas (George Washington University) 12-4
73 Piotr Baranski (Southern Illinois, Carbondale) 10-1
74 Maxime Tchoutakian (Baylor University) 9-5
75 Baker Newman (Vanderbilt University) 11-4
76 McClain Kessler (University of Florida) 9-5
77 David Biosca (East Tennessee State University) 9-4
78 Mitch Stewart (University of Washington) 6-3
79 Johannes Ingildsen (University of Florida) 12-4
80 Colin Sinclair (Cornell University) 12-4
81 Colin Markes (University of Texas) 11-4
82 Alexandre Ribeiro (Virginia Tech) 8-3
83 Florin Bragusi (University of Oklahoma) 6-3
84 Hady Habib (Texas A&M University) 8-2
85 Robert Levine (Duke University) 12-5
86 Cameron Klinger (Vanderbilt University) 13-4
87 Shawn Hadavi (Columbia University) 14-7
88 Jan Zielinski (University of Georgia) 13-3
89 Parker Wynn (University of Louisville) 14-5
90 Maximillian Scholl (Gardner-Webb University) 10-2
91 Morgan Mays (UC Santa Barbara) 8-2
92 Mazen Osama (University of Alabama) 8-3
93 Korey Lovett (University of Central Florida) 1-0
94 Harrison O’Keefe (University of South Carolina) 9-5
95 Nathan Boniel (Portland State University) 10-4
96 Adam Moundir (Old Dominion University) 7-4
97 Igor Smelyanski (Clemson University) 5-2
98 Euan McIntosh (Fresno State) 6-2
99 Christofer Goncalves (New Mexico State University) 15-2
100 Bjorn Hoffmann (California) 13-5
101 Jerry Lopez (TCU) 7-2
102 Walker Duncan (University of Georgia) 11-7
103 Matic Spec (University of Minnesota) 9-3
104 Sergi Espias (New Mexico State University) 12-2
105 Robert Dula (Eastern Washington University) 8-3
106 Chris Vrabel (Cornell University) 11-4
107 David Horneffer (Dartmouth College) 9-2
108 Nicolas Rouanet (University of Louisville) 11-6
109 Julian Cash (Oklahoma State University) 6-3
110 Logan Smith (University of Southern California) 9-6
111 Catalin Mateas (Duke University) 9-4
112 Eric Rutledge (Rice University) 5-3
113 Jackie Tang (Columbia University) 8-4
114 Elliott Orkin (University of Florida) 7-3
115 William Bushamuka (University of Kentucky) 6-3
116 Guus Koevermans (University of San Diego) 8-3
117 Nathan Ponwith (University of Georgia) 8-4
118 Piotr Lomacki (University of Miami (Florida)) 6-3
119 Ryan Peniston (University of Memphis) 9-5
120 Felipe Sarrasague (Elon University) 6-3
121 Myles Schalet (University of Michigan) 8-3
122 Thomas Mayronne (University of South Carolina) 11-6
123 Andrew Li (Georgia Tech) 8-5
124 Thibault Cancel (University of Alabama) 6-2
125 Chi-Shan Jao (Tulane University) 7-3

I can’t forget about my D3 boys, :) #rankings

This is what happens when I let my 11-year old title the article.

I couldn’t let D3 be left behind on this little experiment of fall singles rankings. As you may or may not know, I was the SID at Trinity many years ago for about a year. I loved being on campus. I grew up about a block away from the campus and even dated the President’s daughter in high school (sounds like something from Caddyshack, but no night putting was involved).

I am a huge fan of D3. The academics can be insane. Schools like Amherst, Williams, MIT, Wash U, Emory and Chicago are some of the very best institutions in the country and that’s just a sample. My sister went to Redlands and one of my brothers went to UCSD (when they were D3). My high school ex (the president’s daughter) and my high school team doubles partner both went to Amherst. My other twitter account and website are named The String Theory (@th3str1ngth30ry) after the best piece of sports writing ever by the late Lord Jeff, David Foster Wallace.

So in honor of that, I present the D3 Fall Singles Rankings for the Boys (sorry, had to put that in there)… If you do not know what Trueskill is, please refer to my article from a couple of days ago.

RANK PLAYER (SCHOOL) RECORD TRUESKILL
1 #8 Kai Yuen Leung (Skidmore College) 16-1 433
2 #40 Daniel Morkovine (Claremont-Mudd-Scripps Colleges) 6-0 414
3 #38 Aman Manji (Emory University) 7-1 412
4 #37 David Liu (Univ. of Chicago) 8-2 405
5 Lubomir Cuba (Middlebury College) 11-2 405
6 #22 Mohanad Al Houni (Gustavus Adolphus College) 12-2 400
7 #3 Branden Metzler (Kalamazoo College) 8-1 399
8 Peter Leung (Univ. of Chicago) 6-1 398
9 Chris Maderitz (Wilkes University) 7-0 389
10 Courtney Murphy (Wilkes University) 9-1 386
11 Charlie Pei (Univ. of Chicago) 5-1 384
12 #32 Brady Anderson (Coe College) 8-1 383
13 Artyom Nabokin (Wilkes University) 5-0 382
14 Alexis Dimanche (Southwestern University (TX)) 4-1 381
15 Umberto Setter (New York University) 4-1 380
16 Minos Stavrakas (Ithaca College) 7-1 380
17 Grant Urken (Bowdoin College) 11-2 379
18 Troy Haas (Wilkes University) 7-0 379
19 #39 Arthur Fagundes (The University of Texas at Tyler) 7-3 378
20 Michael Rozenvasser (Carnegie Mellon University) 8-2 378
21 Herman Abban (Carthage College) 9-1 378
22 Chas Mayer (Trinity University (Texas)) 5-1 377
23 Nikolai Parodi (Claremont-Mudd-Scripps Colleges) 6-3 373
24 Alex Taylor (Williams College) 7-1 369
25 Mckenna Fujitani (Trinity University (Texas)) 5-1 366

This isn’t perfect but a pretty good start for what has happened. I am not sure Dimanche belongs above Fagundes, but it is very close in there. I just wanted to give D3 Boys some props and will likely do another ranking list over the holidays when the season is truly done.

Women’s ITA Fall Singles Rankings

I knew I couldn’t leave the ladies hanging, so today I am publishing my women’s version of the Trueskill rankings. If you have any questions on Trueskill, please see yesterday’s article where I post an explanation and a few links.

I know there are a few tournaments left for the fall, so I will likely update all of these sometime over the holiday break.

RANK PLAYER (SCHOOL) RECORD TRUESKILL
1 #3 Francesca Di Lorenzo (Ohio State University) 10-0 485
2 #90 Karla Popovic (California) 21-1 454
3 Sara Daavettila (North Carolina) 21-3 433
4 Ena Shibahara (UCLA) 16-2 432
5 Jessica Livianu (St. John’s University) 18-2 423
6 #54 Blair Shankle (Baylor University) 9-2 422
7 #23 Aldila Sutjiadi (University of Kentucky) 7-2 415
8 Christina Rosca (Vanderbilt University) 11-1 413
9 #1 Hayley Carter (North Carolina) 10-3 409
10 #89 Josie Kuhlman (University of Florida) 15-3 409
11 #53 Asiya Dair (Boston College) 10-1 408
12 #19 Astra Sharma (Vanderbilt University) 10-3 408
13 #72 Lily Miyazaki (University of Oklahoma) 16-2 408
14 Meible Chi (Duke University) 15-4 407
15 Hayley Thompson (Long Beach State University) 9-1 399
16 Racquel Lyn (Dartmouth College) 10-1 398
17 #12 Sydney Campbell (Vanderbilt University) 7-3 396
18 Valeria Salazar Garza (Syracuse University) 10-2 396
19 #31 Jessie Aney (North Carolina) 10-3 395
20 Gianna Insogna (Fordham University) 12-1 393
21 Emma Higuchi (Stanford ) 9-2 391
22 Eleni Christofi (University of Georgia) 12-3 390
23 Ioana Popescu (ULM (Univ. of Louisiana at Monroe) 13-1 390
24 Samantha Czarniak (University of Arizona) 6-1 387
25 Carla Tur Mari (Oklahoma State University) 8-2 387

One of the biggest things I notice is where Hayley Carter ends up. She lost twice to DiLorenzo but also dropped a match to Pepperdine’s Luisa Stefani at the Oracle Masters. Stefani is #2 in the ITA rankings but after a 7-4 season this fall, she appears 37th in these rankings.

 

Ranking the Division I Men’s Players Using Trueskill for the Fall Season

I was fooling around with some ideas about the season and decided I would put out some rankings for the fall half of the season. Sure I could write something or maybe use UTR, but what do college tennis players like even more than tennis? That’s right, video games. So in honor of this, I decided to use Microsoft’s Trueskill algorithm to rank how the fall season went (based on what has been entered into the ITA database as of this morning–11/11).

For those of you not hip to Trueskill, Microsoft uses this algorithm to track the skill of gamers in order to place them in competitive matches. On the Microsoft Research website it explains that the ranking system is characterized by two attributes: a players average skill level (ranking) and the degree of uncertainty in the gamer’s skill (this would be the variation in the players level). If you would like to read more, it can be found at the Microsoft Research website, http://research.microsoft.com/en-us/projects/trueskill/

As with any algorithm, there are several ways you could implement it. I decided in the first trial I would start of with no priors. This means all teams started the season with the base ranking. Since I also program primarily in Python, I decided to use the Trueskill package developed by a South Korean game developer named Heungsub Lee. It seems to be well-written and moderately documented.

I am only going to post the top-25 here for now. I also threw out any players who played few than 5 matches. Their matches counted, but the players were not placed in the rankings.

NCAA DIVISION I TRUESKILL RANKINGS

RANK NAME (SCHOOL) FALL RECORD TRUESKILL
1 #11 Mike Redlicki (University of Arkansas) 17-2 444
2 #8 Petros Chrysochos (Wake Forest University) 6-1 427
3 #1 Mikael Torpegaard (Ohio State University) 7-2 423
4 #33 Hugo Di Feo (Ohio State University) 5-1 420
5 Christian Sigsgaard (University of Texas) 16-3 413
6 Brandon Holt (University of Southern California) 16-2 410
7 #43 Nuno Borges (Mississippi State University) 12-3 407
8 Chema Carranza (University of Wisconsin) 12-1 404
9 Zach Lieb (Penn State University) 5-0 403
10 #45 Jose Salazar (University of Arkansas) 11-3 400
11 #38 Gage Brymer (UCLA) 11-3 398
12 Piotr Baranski (Southern Illinois, Carbondale) 10-1 396
13 #6 Tom Fawcett (Stanford University) 4-2 394
14 #77 Filip Bergevi (California) 11-2 394
15 #7 Skander Mansouri (Wake Forest University) 9-2 393
16 #109 Emil Reinberg (University of Georgia) 18-3 389
17 Diego Quiroz (Winthrop University) 14-2 388
18 Josh Pompan (University of Pennsylvania) 14-2 387
19 #61 Billy Griffith (California) 11-2 387
20 Christofer Goncalves (New Mexico State University) 15-2 385
21 #14 Nicolas Alvarez (Duke University) 9-4 382
22 Chris Vrabel (Cornell University) 11-2 380
23 #65 Herkko Pollanen (Ohio State University) 8-2 380
24 Arnaud Valentin (University of Connecticut) 5-0 380
25 #17 Andre Goransson (California) 12-4 379

Just for kicks, here’s the current ITA top-25.

Rank Avg Player School Conference Year
1 0.00 Mikael Torpegaard Ohio State University Big Ten Conference So.
2 0.00 Cameron Norrie TCU Big 12 Conference Jr.
3 0.00 Aleks Vukic University of Illinois Big Ten Conference Jr.
4 0.00 Thai-Son Kwiatkowski University of Virginia Atlantic Coast Conference Sr.
5 0.00 Christopher Eubanks Georgia Tech Atlantic Coast Conference Jr.
6 0.00 Tom Fawcett Stanford University Pacific-12 Conference Jr.
7 0.00 Skander Mansouri Wake Forest University Atlantic Coast Conference Jr.
8 0.00 Petros Chrysochos Wake Forest University Atlantic Coast Conference So.
9 0.00 Arthur Rinderknech Texas A&M University Southeastern Conference Jr.
10 0.00 Ronnie Schneider North Carolina Atlantic Coast Conference Fr.
11 0.00 Mike Redlicki University of Arkansas Southeastern Conference Sr.
12 0.00 Konrad Zieba Northwestern University Big Ten Conference Jr.
13 0.00 Florian Lakat California Pacific-12 Conference Sr.
14 0.00 Nicolas Alvarez Duke University Atlantic Coast Conference Jr.
15 0.00 William Bushamuka University of Kentucky Southeastern Conference Jr.
16 0.00 Wayne Montgomery University of Georgia Southeastern Conference Jr.
17 0.00 Andre Goransson California Pacific-12 Conference Sr.
18 0.00 Gustav Hansson University of Mississippi Southeastern Conference Jr.
19 0.00 Collin Altamirano University of Virginia Atlantic Coast Conference Jr.
20 0.00 Martin Redlicki UCLA Pacific-12 Conference Jr.
21 0.00 Daniel Valent Vanderbilt University Southeastern Conference So.
22 0.00 Elliott Orkin University of Florida Southeastern Conference Sr.
23 0.00 George Goldhoff University of Texas Big 12 Conference Sr.
24 0.00 Andrew Harris University of Oklahoma Big 12 Conference So.
25 0.00 Or Ram-Harel University of Tulsa American Athletic Conference Jr.

As you can see, this varies greatly from the current ITA top-25. Sure there are a bunch of guys who are taking the fall off for a variety of reasons (school, playing the tour, injuries) or played a little of both.

There’s also a group of guys who did play, but had an ‘off’ fall season.

This brought me to the concept of who should be in these fall rankings and a plethora of questions. Should the players not playing the fall season be included? Should they not be added until they actually play a match in January? Should the previous season(s) count in these beginning rankings? If so, how much?

I am not sure where I stand on this at the moment, honestly, but I have enjoyed debating these thoughts i my head. I welcome any ideas other may have, as only more of these types of discussions only improves the game and how it is reported.

Prepping for a Comeback

It’s been awhile. Too long.

I am currently redesigning the site and prepping to get back into the game. I am not sure what my level of contribution will be, but I will definitely be doing more.

One of the reasons for this post is to let SIDs know that my old e-mail for this site will no longer work. I have relocated the site and disabled the mail server. I will probably not be posting press releases as before, but the information is good to have. If you need to reach me or start sending me releases, please send them to sixmanguru at gmail (you know the rest).

It’s Time For a Reality Check

I’m going to let you in on a little secret – changing the match format is not going to save college tennis.

I applaud everyone’s outrage, pleading and contempt on the changes facing college tennis.

I also understand that the call to change the game before ‘administrators’ eliminate college tennis on campuses throughout the country comes from noble intents.

I just want to give everyone a reality check.

Do you really think having a few more fans or changing the format is going to keep some administrator from cutting your program when it comes down to money?

No. Not in a million years.

Let me ask another tough question.

When you rank tennis team’s status on your favorite campus, where does it land? Is it near the bottom to bottom-half?

Sure it does for most schools and 100 more fans are not going to help.

Do you really think television is going pay to show more matches?

Again, no.

Sure, the big conferences will have some matches shown as part of their bigger deals, but good tennis television production is expensive when done right. To attract any sort of viewership, the production would have to be on the level of other sports. Fans will not be flocking to watch this, so there won’t be a lot of earnings from this. Most of the time teams would be paying for this privilege.

Let me emphasize this by pointing out that very few non-Grand Slam ATP and WTA matches are even televised…. by the Tennis Channel.

The sad reality is that in a few years we may be lamenting the loss of several programs, mostly on the men’s side. I say this because they are not going to cut programs like rowing or equestrian, to name a few. These types of programs fulfill a need. Offering more scholarship than tennis, they are the counterbalance to the preponderance of men’s scholarships given by sports like football. This is just a fact of Title IX.

Go back to your list of sports on your campus. How many of the teams in the bottom tier are from sports like those, which have been added in the last 20 years to offset football scholarships? They aren’t going anywhere. Donors and the athletes themselves offset much of the cost for these sports.

Because of this, I suspect the per-athlete cost of services is also much less in those sports.

Tennis is not going to become revenue-positive with a simple change in format. Attendance isn’t going to do it. Television revenue isn’t coming.

If money gets tight, as we all expect it to real soon, the programs that will survive will be from big conferences and from savy athletic departments that have planned for the future.

How will they plan?

One way is by endowed athletic scholarships and programs. Taking less money away from the budget always helps and having it tied to a specific sport is the perfect way.

Winning helps. If your program is successful, then odds are it will be harder to cut. The problem with this is that by definition, this eliminates most programs, because is someone is winning, then someone is losing. It’s a zero-sum game.

I hate to say this but having fewer foreign players could help. I personally think having foreign players is good. College is a time when many kids get to really know people that are different from themselves.

That being said, if your team is all foreign, do you think an AD is going to think twice about cutting a bunch of kids from non-tax paying families?

I can ramble all night, but I think you get my point.

Create excitement within the stadium. I can assure you that what the Big 12 has  in store for this year is NOTHING compared to being at a Georgia tennis match in the 80’s, let alone a Trinity match in the 70’s and 80’s when I was falling in love with college tennis.

Read what Erica Perkins Jasper and David Roditi (two ex-USTA coaches I might ad) say in the article about their ITA Awards.

http://www.itatennis.com/AwardsAndRankings/USTA_ITA_Campus___Community_Awards.htm 

—–

One last word on the scoring.

You want excitement? Bring back the nine-point tiebreaker!

Five things I learned this weekend (after the #ITATennis Regionals)

I decided it was time to put pen to paper or at least type a few words on the state of college tennis in this state. It has been awhile since I really have put my thoughts online and this is by no means a complete list of how things are going. I just wanted to get a few initial ideas out, as I saw them.

Five things I learned this weekend (after the #ITATennis Regionals)

5. The Texas and Houston women are projects.

I had higher hopes for both of these squads coming into the season, but it seems as though they are both probably works in progress. Houston did beat North Texas but was blanked by TCU and lost to BYU the previous weekend. The top of the lineup is solid for the Cougars, but their lack of depth past for the top-3 will be their Achilles heel.

Texas was absolutely crushed by Vanderbilt. It wasn’t even close, as the Horns failed to pick up a single set. They beat DePaul, 4-3, on Saturday, but DePaul then fell to Harvard, 4-2 the following day. The road only gets tougher for Texas as they host Rice next weekend before hitting the road to play Pepperdine, USC, Michigan, Northwestern, Oklahoma and Oklahoma State over the next six weeks. By my calculations, they will need to win at least two of these to even have a chance of remaining above .500 for the tournament, let alone have the ranking. This team needs to grow up fast.

4. Baylor is Baylor

Not really sure what to say here.

The women skipped the ITA this year, but posted wins over top-10 teams Georgia and Virginia. One of the biggest challenges of NOT playing the ITA is to balance your schedule with enough opportunities to get those top-10 wins, without suffering too many losses all to earn a high-enough seed to host when it comes to NCAA Tournament time. With those wins out of the way, the Bears are loaded and confident for a schedule that still includes Clemson, Michigan, Vanderbilt, Northwestern, Ohio State and UCLA, all before the Big 12 season begins.

After a tough mid-week loss to Illinois, the men bounced back in what had to be the easiest regional this weekend, throttling Tulane and Drake, 4-0.  I am not discounting the fact that Drake doesn’t have a couple of solid players at the top, but Baylor took care of business and didn’t leave any doubt.

3. The Rice women have fallen off

Beazant is still tough, as she showed by cruising in their only point of the weekend against Northwestern (and she was winning vs. Kentucky), but there wasn’t much support. Lines 2,3,4 and 5 combined to win a whopping nine games in that match. Nine games.

The Owls’ match vs. Texas is huge for both teams as they try to sort out who they are. If they can’t get a few wins in February, it may be a tough road to qualify for the tournament as well. They do have some opportunities with Texas Tech, Ole Miss, Baylor and Oklahoma State remaining on the non-conference schedule.

2. The Aggies have some question marks

On the men’s side, the shock of losing to TCU in the first round has to be unsettling for Texas A&M. Sure they have a couple of freshmen in the lineup, but they are going to have to rely on the top-3 to win the big matches this year. It’s a long season and there’s plenty of talent there, but they will need to stay healthy and get an amazing year from their upperclassmen to have the kind of season they expected in the preseason.

An even bigger shock has to be the women’s loss to TCU. Despite having no seniors, the Aggie women are loaded with players. Like their male counterparts, they have some growing to do. Unfortunately (or maybe fortunately) they have to get right back at it with a match against North Carolina in Houston this weekend, with the SEC schedule starting up the following weekend. Their only remaining non-conference match will be in early April in Waco.

1. TCU has arrived

Wow, what a weekend for the Frogs! The men and women both upset Texas A&M in College Station and qualified for the final 16. The women are going for the first time in school history, while the men are returning for the first time since 2001, when they were semifinalists.

Despite losing the doubles point to the Aggies, the men, led by Cameron Norrie, took four singles matches. Being able to move everyone down a spot in the lineup has been a real boost for TCU.

I don’t have a whole lot of insight to the women’s victories this weekend, but adding Dubavets and Pereira into the middle of the lineup has given them the depth required to compete in the big matches. The win over the Aggies definitely announces this team is ready to compete for the Big 12 title.

Collegiate Season Opens and Texas’ #DavisCup Ties

With the conclusion of the US Open and Marin Cilic putting the finishing touches on the Grand Slam season, it is time to get into college tennis and a little Davis Cup action.

First, it seems many of the state’s top women’s programs are heading to Waco for the Under Armour Kick-Off (I have seen kickoff spelled three different ways, so I will go with one of host Baylor’s versions. the men travel to the West Texas town of Midland for the legendary Racquet Club Collegiate Invitational.

Who knows how much tennis will actually get played? It has been in the high 90’s for months, but the highs for Waco and Midland this Saturday are expected to be 73 and 65, respectively, with a solid chance of showers in both places.

Texas A&M-Corpus Christi is also hosting both men and women in the Marco & Co Catering Islander Open. There is a 60% chance of rain in Corpus as well, so like in Waco I expect quite a bit of indoor tennis, but maybe a better buffet, due to the catering sponsorship.

For any Division III action, please follow the website www.division3tennis.com. They also have a couple of great twitter accounts you can find there.

On the Davis Cup side, I felt I would throw in some discussion on a few DC ties with ties to Texas.

Obviously the US plays Slovakia in Chicago. Not really any Texas ties here, except there is a town called Bryan.

I am one of those people though that gets excited about the lower groups.

In a Group I Americas relegation match, Venezuela and Baylor-ex Roberto Maytin host Uruguay in Caracas.

University of Texas alum Miguel-Angel Reyes-Varela is now one of the old men leading the Mexican team in a Group II Americas Third Round match in Barbados. The winner advances to Group I.

Soren Hess –Oleson has been added to the Danish team, as they hold Molova in a European Group II Third Round tie. I hope they don’t stay out partying all night with Wozniaki. Quick name the greatest player to come out of Moldova! I hope Soren gets into this, if even for a dead rubber on Sunday.

Also in European third rounder, Bosnia/Herzegovina hosts Lithuania in Sarajevo. The Texas ties here is Amer Delic, who lives in Austin, is the captain for BIH.

We could probably claim more ties, like Somdev Devvarman, but I’ll stop there. Please hit up the Davis Cup website to get updates on these and all of the other matches.

NCAA Men’s Tennis DI Regionals Simulated 50000 times

I’m sitting in the middle of exams and term projects looking for ways to relax. What better way than to run a Monte Carlo Simulation of each of the men’s regionals, based on my year-end ratings?

So I ran each regional 50,000 times and you can see the results. One of the more intriguing of course is the Nashville Regional, where I could not really account for the home court (and probably outdoor) advantage the Vanderbilt will have over Columbia. That probably sways things a little, I am guessing in the range of 5-15%.

The first number is how many times each team won the entire regional. The second is their probability of coming out of the regional.

BEST FIRST ROUND MATCH-UPS: The Vanderbilt-Virginia Tech match-up looks good, as do the Oklahoma State-Michigan, Memphis-Drake, South Florida-Florida State,  Northwestern-Mississippi, Wake Forest-Louisville, Boise State-USD and Auburn-Harvard. There are a few more, but that’s my quick take.

USC Regional

University of Southern California 45307 90.614%
University of Idaho 122 0.244%
Oklahoma State University 2283 4.566%
University of Michigan 2288 4.576%

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Nashville Regional

Vanderbilt University 9815 19.630%
Virginia Tech 7818 15.636%
East Tennessee State University 1917 3.834%
Columbia University 30450 60.900%

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Austin Regional

University of Texas 39580 79.160%
Marist College 224 0.448%
University of Louisiana at Lafayette 1140 2.280%
Mississippi State University 9056 18.112%

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College Station Regional

California 11649 23.298%
Texas Tech University 5420 10.840%
Alcorn State University 42 0.084%
Texas A&M University 32889 65.778%

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Waco Regional

Baylor University 43520 87.040%
Texas A&M-Corpus Christi 497 0.994%
Stanford University 3601 7.202%
University of Tulsa 2382 4.764%

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Champaign Regional

University of Memphis 6515 13.030%
Drake University 5669 11.338%
Ball State University 374 0.748%
University of Illinois 37442 74.884%

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South Bend Regional

University of Notre Dame 35693 71.386%
Univ. of Wisconsin-Green Bay 381 0.762%
Northwestern University 6925 13.850%
University of Mississippi 7001 14.002%

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Charlottesville Regional

Penn State University 3489 6.978%
UNC Wilmington 636 1.272%
U.S. Military Academy 104 0.208%
University of Virginia 45771 91.542%

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Columbus Regional

Ohio State University 45064 90.128%
Bryant University 72 0.144%
Wake Forest University 2384 4.768%
University of Louisville 2480 4.960%

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Gainesville Regional

University of South Florida 7877 15.754%
Florida State University 7821 15.642%
St. John’s University 1541 3.082%
University of Florida 32761 65.522%

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Durham Regional

Duke University 35589 71.178%
Winthrop University 606 1.212%
University of Tennessee 12034 24.068%
Elon University 1771 3.542%

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UCLA Regional

University of San Diego 2321 4.642%
Boise State University 3591 7.182%
Cal Poly 375 0.750%
UCLA 43713 87.426%

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Chapel Hill Regional

North Carolina 40147 80.294%
South Carolina State 233 0.466%
University of South Carolina 8986 17.972%
George Washington University 634 1.268%

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Athens Regional

North Carolina State 7642 15.284%
University of Oregon 5472 10.944%
Jacksonville State University 161 0.322%
University of Georgia 36725 73.450%

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Lexington Regional

University of Kentucky 32487 64.974%
University of Denver 948 1.896%
Clemson University 9801 19.602%
Purdue University 6764 13.528%

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Norman Regional

Auburn University 2313 4.626%
Harvard University 2361 4.722%
Montana 88 0.176%
University of Oklahoma 45238 90.476%