The Nations Top Competitors Square Off In Seattle
The top teams from around the country have descended upon Seattle this weekend to do battle at the Nordstrom Tennis Center and Seattle Tennis Club in an event hosted by the University of Washington. Last year USC won a 4-3 thriller over Ohio State to put an end to Virginia’s reign of 4 straight Indoor Titles and this year expects to have plenty of drama as well.
Once the lineups are released on Friday we’ll have a few questions answered about who is playing and who is not and where certain people will fall within the lineup. Some items to look out for are the status of Duke’s Chris Mengel and Ohio State’s Ille Van Engelen who have both been absent from the singles lineup for several weeks. Both of those teams are obviously stronger with them starting. It will be interesting to see where Virginia slots Mitchell Frank, Mac Styslinger, and Ryan Shane. It will also be interesting to see if Kentucky moves Charles Minc up, if Georgia swaps Ben Wagland into the 3 spot instead of Hernus Pieters, and if Florida keeps Michael Alford at 4 or moves him to 5 with Gordon Watson playing at 4. Some of these decisions could determine whether a team wins or loses since I’m anticipating some 4-3 nail bitters.
I think we could see as many as 3 or 4 upsets based off seeding with several of these teams evenly matched and with the doubles point determining who gets the win or loss. Let’s take a look at each of the Round of 16 matches along with my predictions. DRAW | ITA CENTRAL
#1 Virginia vs. #16 Washington – NTC 5:30 pm pst – Washington got the automatic bid due to being the host school and the Huskies will be fired up but they won’t have the firepower to match up with top ranked Virginia. I’ll take Mitchell Frank, Jarmere Jenkins, and Mac Styslinger to finish first to complete the shutout. Prediction: Virginia 4-0
#8 Oklahoma vs. #9 Duke – STC 5:30 pm pst – This should be a very competitive matchup with Duke trying to prove they belong among the elite after getting upset 2 weeks ago by Illinois. I like Henrique Cunha, Michael Redlicki, and Jason Tahir to pull through for Duke while Guillermo Alcorta and Axel Llamas get wins for OU. A Duke victory would set up a showdown with conference rival Virginia in the Quarterfinals. Prediction: Duke 4-2
#4 Ohio State vs. #13 Cal – NTC 2:30 pm pst – Ohio State will try to rebound from last Sunday’s stunning 4-3 loss to Texas A&M while Cal is coming off a pair of losses to USC and UCLA. I think Ohio State rights the ship by getting the doubles point and singles wins from Blaz Rola, Peter Kobelt, and Connor Smith. Prediction: Ohio State 4-0
#5 Pepperdine vs. #11 Florida – STC 2:30 pm pst – I think this one has the making of an Instant Classic with Pepperdine stronger at the top lineup and Florida stronger at the bottom. I like Stephane Piro at 3, Michael Alford at 5, and Billy Federhofer at 6 for Florida while I like Pepperdine to squeeze out the doubles point and pick up singles wins from Sebastian Fanselow at 1, Francis Alcantara at 4, and Alex Sarkissian at 2 with Sarkissian providing the clincher in a 3 set war. Prediction: Pepperdine 4-3
#6 Georgia vs. #12 Ole Miss – STC 8 am pst – These SEC rivals are very familiar with each other and I expect this one to be a very entertaining dual. I like KU Singh, Nathan Pasha, and Nick Wood to get wins for the Bulldogs while I like William Kallberg, Johan Backstrom, and Stefan Lindmark to win for the Rebels. I think Georgia takes the doubles point as well which ultimately proves to be the difference. Prediction: Georgia 4-3
#3 UCLA vs. #14 Tennessee – NTC 8 am pst – Tennessee has played well so far this season but the Vols don’t have the horses to keep up with UCLA. I think UT will keep it close on a few courts but Dennis Mkrtchian, Adrian Puget, and Clay Thompson will roll in straight sets to complete the shutout. Prediction: UCLA 4-0
#7 Kentucky vs. #10 Mississippi State – STC 11 am pst – The 2nd all SEC matchup of the tournament should be a good one that may be decided by the doubles point. If Kentucky keeps its lineup the same as it has been then I think Mississippi State will take it 4-3 with Romain Bogaerts, James Chaudry, and Jordan Angus winning in singles along with State taking the doubles point. Both Alejandro Gomez and Juan Pablo Murra have struggled for Kentucky this year at the 3 and 4 spot while Charles Minc has been playing lights out at 5. If Kentucky moves Minc up in the lineup I think they can steal another court and take it. I guess we’ll find out what lineup they put out on Friday. Tentative Prediction: Mississippi State 4-3
#2 USC vs. #15 Texas A&M – NTC 11 am pst – Texas A&M is flying high after its 4-3 stunner of Ohio State but things will be a little different on the road and indoors against the defending National Indoor Champs. Ray Sarmiento, Emilio Gomez, and Eric Johnson get straight set wins for the Trojans. Prediction: USC 4-0
Virginia over Duke 4-3
Ohio State over Pepperdine 4-2
UCLA over Georgia 4-0
USC over Mississippi State 4-0
Virginia over Ohio State 4-2
USC over UCLA 4-2
Virginia over USC 4-3
Check back on Saturday morning and I’ll breakdown each Quarterfinal matchup in more detail and I may adjust my predictions based off the lineups put out on Friday.
CTO Correspondent - Bobby Knight - Twittter | Facebook | Newsletter