Sixteen of the nation’s top teams will be in action
Courtesy of the ITA -- The field of 16 is set for the 2013 Intercollegiate Tennis Association (ITA) Division I National Men’s Team Indoor Championship. The University of Washington will serve as the host institution of the 39th annual Championship at The Nordstrom Tennis Center and Seattle Tennis Club in Seattle, Wash.
In all, 13 of the 15 No. 1 seeds participating in the fifth annual ITA Kick-Off Weekend were able to advance to Seattle. Cal, Duke, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Mississippi State, Oklahoma, Ole Miss, Ohio State, Pepperdine, UCLA, USC, and Virginia were all able to hold serve at home; Illinois and Stanford were not as fortunate. Tennessee emerged from the Illinois site as the No. 4 seed, while Texas A&M did the same at Stanford, to earn the right to compete for the prestigious national title.
A total of six conferences will be represented at this year’s Championship, with almost half of the draw being made up of SEC teams, as the conference is sending an impressive seven to Seattle. Four Pac-12 teams will be in the field this year, along with two from the ACC. The Big 12, Big Ten, and West Coast Conference each have one squad in the draw. For the complete draw, click here.
For complete coverage of the 2013 ITA Division I National Men's Team Indoor Championship, please visit the official ITA event page. Follow the ITA on Twitter, @ITAtennis, for updates and news from the weekend's events. Use the hashtag #ITAIndoors for all tweets in regards to the event, or search the term "ITAIndoors" to find others who are tweeting from across the nation about this year's Championship, Feb. 15-18.
Below is an in-depth look at the 16 teams in the hunt for the 2013 ITA Division I National Men’s Team Indoor Championship crown.
Cal: The No. 13 Cal Golden Bears will be looking to break a two-match losing streak on the opening day of the 2013 ITA National Men’s Team Indoor Championship. Cal opened up the season with wins over No. 21 Michigan, No. 38 Boise State, and Pacific, but a trip to Los Angeles resulted in a 7-0 loss to No. 2 USC and a 6-1 loss to No. 3 UCLA. The Golden Bears feature four players in the ITA Men’s Singles Rankings, led by senior Christoffer Konigsfeldt at 48th. Georgia transfer Campbell Johnson checks in at 61st, while Ben McLachlan is 82nd and Chase Melton is 102nd. Cal should produce solid doubles play in Seattle this weekend thanks to two top 25 doubles duos: Johnson/Konigsfledt (14) and Ben McLachlan/Riki Mclachlan (22). The Golden Bears have won this event twice in program history, with the last coming in 1989. Cal will start the Championship face yet another top five team in Ohio State.
Duke: The Duke Blue Devils are the ninth seed in the 2013 ITA National Men’s Team Indoor Championship, coming in with a national ranking of No. 9. Duke is off to a 9-1 start, which includes defeating No. 14 Tennessee, No. 21 Michigan, No. 29 Notre Dame, No. 33 Northwestern, and No. 43 Middle Tennessee State. The Blue Devils did fall to No. 19 Illinois by a final score of 4-3 in a tight road match. Duke’s singles lineup features five nationally-ranked players, led by senior ninth-ranked Henrique Cunha. Freshman Michael Redlicki comes in at 15th in the nation, Fred Saba is 31st, Chris Mengel is 53rd, and Raphael Hemmeler is 57th. The Blue Devils are even more impressive in doubles, with three duos ranked inside the top 40 in the nation: Cunha and Hemmeler (2), Redlicki and Jason Tahir (18), and Mengel and Saba (33). Duke is seeking its first ITA National Men’s Team Indoor Championship crown, having yet to reach the final in program history. The Blue Devils are set to face Oklahoma on day one.
Florida: The Florida Gators head into this year’s Championship ranked No. 11 in the ITA Men’s Team Rankings, which is also the seed they were awarded. Florida is 6-0, but will be competing in a dual match outside of its state for the first time this season. The Gators own wins over No. 28 Florida State, No. 39 UNC Wilmington, No. 54 Miami (Fla.), and No. 71 St. John’s. Three Florida singles players are ranked nationally, led by 36th-ranked Florent Diep, along with 78th-ranked senior Bob van Overbeek and 108th-ranked Stephane Piro. Diep and fellow junior Michael Alford represent the Gators in doubles at 46th in the nation. Florida reached the ITA National Men’s Team Indoor Championship finals in 2003, and first-year head coach Bryan Shelton will be looking to lead the Gators to their first title at the event. Their quest begins against the Pepperdine Waves.
Georgia: The Georgia Bulldogs enter the 2013 ITA National Men’s Team Indoor Championship ranked No. 6 and the overall sixth seed in the draw. Georgia’s record sits at 4-1 this season, with the lone lose coming on the road at No. 4 Ohio State 5-2. The Bulldogs have collected victories over No. 30 VCU, No. 40 Vanderbilt, No. 57 Clemson, and No. 65 Georgia Tech. Georgia has three players currently ranked inside the top 50 of the ITA Men’s Singles Rankings including eighth-ranked KU Singh, 21st-ranked Nathan Pasha, and 41st-ranked Hernus Pieters. Pieters is also in the top 10 of the doubles rankings, checking in at fifth with freshman Ben Wagland, while Pasha and Singh are ranked 27th. The Bulldogs have reached the finals of this event eight times in program history, taking home the crown in 2006 and 2007; Georgia also claimed the NCAA Championship in 2007. The Bulldogs are set to face SEC foe Ole Miss in the first round.
Kentucky: In a year of change for the Kentucky Wildcats (first-year head coach and Eric Quigley moving on due to graduation), things have been business as usual to this point. Kentucky is ranked No. 7, good enough for the seventh seed in this year’s Championship. The Wildcats are 8-1 this spring, picking up wins over No. 8 Oklahoma, No. 16 Texas, No. 29 Notre Dame, No. 32 Indiana, and No. 48 Michigan State. Their lone loss came on the road against Illinois, a tough 4-3 decision. Kentucky is led in the rankings by a pair of upperclassmen, as junior Tom Jomby is ranked 29th, while senior Anthony Rossi is ranked 90th. The Wildcats have one doubles duo nationally-ranked in 34th-ranked Jomby and Kevin Lai. Kentucky served as the host institution for the ITA National Men’s Team Indoor Championships for 17 seasons, but is still in search of its first finals appearance. The Wildcats will take on the Mississippi State Bulldogs in an all-SEC opening round match.
Mississippi State: The Mississippi State Bulldogs bring a top 10 ranking and an undefeated record of 7-0 to Seattle for this year’s Championship. The 10th-seeded Bulldogs have claimed victories over six ranked opponents already, defeating No. 12 in-state rival Ole Miss, No. 22 Auburn, No. 25 LSU, No. 27 Texas Tech, No. 53 South Alabama, and No. 56 Rice. Mississippi State has two players with a national singles ranking: freshman Romain Bogaerts (19) and reigning SEC Player of the Week Malte Stropp (43). Stropp also owns a top 15 doubles ranking with another rookie Jordan Angus, as the duo is ranked 13th. This is the first appearance in the ITA National Men’s Team Indoor Championship for the Bulldogs since 1999. Mississippi State will be up against SEC foe Kentucky in its first match; the Bulldogs are 3-0 this season against SEC squads.
Ohio State: The Ohio State Buckeyes head to Seattle ranked No. 4 and seeded fourth in the draw. Ohio State already has eight victories on the season, three of which came against ranked competition. The Buckeyes swept past No. 54 Miami (Fla.) and No. 74 East Tennessee State as part of ITA Kick-Off Weekend, but their most impressive win was a 5-2 triumph over No. 6 Georgia. However, Ohio State did lose its last match, a 4-3 thriller against No. 15 Texas A&M in College Station. Experienced veterans Peter Kobelt (2), Connor Smith (30), and Blaz Rola (62) all have a current national ranking, while redshirt freshman Chris Diaz is ranked 37th in the country. Kobelt and Smith continue to be a formidable doubles tandem, ranking 36th in the ITA Men’s Doubles Rankings. The Buckeyes have lost in the finals of the ITA National Men’s Team Indoor Championship in three of the past six seasons, including last year’s 4-3 heartbreaker to the Trojans. Ohio State will meet Cal in the first round of this year’s Championship.
Oklahoma: The Oklahoma Sooners, ranked and seeded No. 8, bring a record of 5-1 to this year’s Championship. Oklahoma has recorded wins over No. 17 Tulsa, No. 31 Memphis, No. 32 Indiana, and No. 47 Harvard, while suffering a tight 4-3 loss on the road to No. 7 Kentucky. Experienced veterans Guillermo Alcorta (65) and Costin Paval (68) are the highest ranked Sooners in singles, while sophomore Dane Webb (119) has also earned a national ranking. Paval and Webb have been very successful as a doubles pair as well, as they are currently ranked 19th in the nation. Oklahoma has yet to reach the finals of the ITA National Men’s Team Indoor Championship in program history, and is making its first appearance in the event under head coach John Roddick. The Sooners have drawn the Duke Blue Devils in the opening round.
Ole Miss: The No. 12 Ole Miss Rebels made the long trek to the Pacific Northwest a few days early to take on the Portland Pilots, having played just three other dual matches this season. The Rebels took care of Portland 4-0 to push their record to 3-1, with the other two victories coming against No. 34 NC State and No. 42 Columbia during ITA Kick-Off Weekend. Ole Miss suffered its only defeat at the hands of No. 10 Mississippi State in the annual Mississippi Cup. The Rebels have a total of four players in the ITA Men’s Singles Rankings, including sixth-ranked senior Jonas Lutjen and 24th-ranked sophomore Nik Scholtz. Lutjen and Scholtz are also ranked nationally as a doubles tandem, currently sitting at 16th in the most recent rankings. Another Rebel senior/sophomore duo, Adrian Forberg Skogeng and William Kallberg, is ranked 25th. Ole Miss has not participated in the ITA National Men’s Team Indoor Championship since 2010. First up for the Rebels is a familiar opponent in Georgia.
Pepperdine: Pepperdine will have a difficult time topping last season, which ended in the National Semifinals of the NCAA Tournament, but the fifth-ranked and fifth-seeded Waves are off to a good start. Pepperdine bring a perfect 5-0 record into the weekend, with victories over No. 16 Texas, No. 24 Washington (in Seattle), No. 28 Florida State, and No. 52 Denver. The Waves are led by senior Sebastian Fanselow, ranked fourth nationally in singles; fellow senior Finn Tearney (105) and junior college transfer Alex Sarkissian (89) have also played their way into the ITA Men’s Singles Rankings. Pepperdine has claimed the ITA National Men’s Team Indoor Championship crown twice in program history, with the last coming in 1986. The Waves have also advanced to the finals two other times, including in 2006, the same season they won the NCAA Championship. Pepperdine and Florida will square off in the first round.
Tennessee: Playing matches on multiple days on three separate occasions so far this season, the No. 14 Tennessee Volunteers have a record of 11-1 going into the weekend. Among those 11 wins are two defeats of No. 19 Illinois, along with one of No. 23 North Carolina and No. 36 Wake Forest. The Volunteers did drop a 4-1 decision in Durham to No. 9 Duke. Tennessee is led in the singles rankings by a pair of sophomores in 11th-ranked Mikelis Libietis and 26th-ranked Hunter Reese. Capping off the talented sophomore class is Brandon Fickey, who is ranked 87th. Libietis is part of two doubles duos ranked inside the top 30 nationally, checking in at 24th with John Collins and 26th with Jarryd Chaplin, while Chaplin is also ranked 42nd with Edward Jones. Tennessee has never won the ITA National Men’s Team Indoor Championship, but did reach the finals in 2010 and 2011, losing to Virginia both times. The Vols open up the weekend against Pac-12 opponent UCLA.
Texas A&M: Entering the Championship as the No. 15 seed, the Aggies of Texas A&M may be the tournament’s dark horse to win it all. Fresh off a 4-3 upset of No. 4 Ohio State, the Aggies seem to be firing on all cylinders to start the 2013 season, owning a perfect 7-0 record with wins over No. 19 Stanford, No. 26 San Diego, No. 56 Rice and No. 68 TCU. What makes the Aggies’ success this season even more impressive is the fact that they do not have one singles player ranked inside the Top 50. However, the Aggies do have the nation’s seventh best doubles team in Harrison Adams and Shane Vinsant, both freshmen, as well as the duo of Junior Ore and Jackson Withrow (41). Doubles has been a key strength for Aggies as they have claimed every doubles point this year. Also proving to be a major factor this year is the play in the middle of their lineup as third, fourth and fifth singles combine for a staggering 19-2 record in dual matches. Texas A&M will take on No. 2 USC in the first round, a rematch of last year’s NCAA second round, a match in which the Aggies lost, 4-0.
UCLA: Coming off of an appearance in the National Semifinals of the NCAA Tournament a season ago, No. 3 UCLA is looking to build on the success of last season. The Bruins have amassed a 7-0 record to this point, most recently sweeping No. 19 Stanford 7-0 and beating No. 13 Cal 6-1. UCLA also has victories over No. 26 San Diego, No. 50 BYU, and No. 58 Cal Poly. The Bruins are seeded third in this event, with a singles lineup that should match up with any team in the field. Sophomore Marcos Giron is the top-ranked player for UCLA, coming in at 13th in the latest ITA Men’s Singles Rankings. Three other Bruins are ranked as well: Adrien Puget (42), Dennis Mkrtchian (55), and Dennis Novikov (58). UCLA has won the ITA National Men’s Team Indoor Championship title on seven occasions, with the last coming in Seattle in 2001 over Stanford. The Bruins have drawn SEC opponent Tennessee on day one.
USC: The USC Trojans are currently ranked No. 2 in the ITA Men’s Team Rankings, earning them the second seed in Seattle. USC has already played nine matches this spring, boasting a perfect 9-0 record while not dropping more than one point in any dual match. Of those nine wins, six have some against ranked foes, including 7-0 sweeps of No. 13 Cal and No. 16 Texas and a 6-1 defeat of No. 19 Stanford. The Trojans have an impressive eight singles players nationally-ranked, led by 10th-ranked Emilio Gomez; Ray Sarmiento (12) and Roberto Quiroz (23) are also in the Top 25. Sarmiento is also ranked 48th in doubles with sophomore Yannick Hanfmann, and Gomez checks into the doubles rankings at 49th with Eric Johnson. USC is the defending ITA National Men’s Team Indoor champion, battling past Ohio State 4-3 in Charlottesville last season for the crown. The Trojans are set to take on Texas A&M in the opening round.
Virginia: The Virginia Cavaliers enter the weekend ranked No. 1 in the ITA Men’s Team Rankings and seeded first. The Cavaliers are 2-0 on the season, claiming victories over No. 51 Arkansas 6-1 and No. 62 North Florida 9-0. Virginia’s lineup is once again loaded with talent, as the Cavaliers have four singles players in the top 25 and three doubles pairs in the top 15. Alex Domijan currently sits atop the ITA Men’s Singles Rankings, while freshman Mac Styslinger is fifth, Jarmere Jenkins is seventh, and Ryan Shane checks in at 25th. In doubles, Jenkins and Styslinger are the highest ranked Virginia duo at fourth. Domijan and Harrison Richmond are ranked sixth nationally to go along with Justin Shane and Julen Uriguen at 15th. Virginia won the ITA National Men’s Team Indoor Championship title four years in a row from 2008-2011, including defeating Tennessee 4-0 in the 2011 finals in Seattle. The Cavaliers will play host institution Washington in their first match.
Washington: Serving as the host institution for the 2013 ITA National Men’s Team Indoor Championship, the Huskies of Washington will have the most difficult opening round match as they take on No. 1 Virginia. Despite a tough first round matchup, the Huskies have played extremely well at the Nordstrom Tennis Center, owning a 5-1 record at home with their only loss coming against No. 5 Pepperdine. Entering the Championship as the 16th seed, Washington is riding high on a four four-match home win streak with victories over No. 37 Santa Clara and No. 38 Boise State. The Huskies also boast a Top 25 win as they went on the road to defeat No. 17 Tulsa earlier this year. Leading the way for the Huskies is senior Kyle McMorrow, who, is Washington’s only ranked singles player at 18.