Florida College Tennis
Saturday, April 15, would mark the end of Season 15 of youth tennis with All American Team Tennis. And like we do every season, we held a big event that we like to call Championship Saturday. For those of you who are new to AATT, Championship Saturday is our “playoffs”; it’s the tournament at the end of a long season. Kinda like the NCAA Championships, but for little leaguers. It’s where our players, after a lot of trial-and-error, compete to find out who’s #1, in addition to rewarding our players for what they’ve accomplished during the season. Beginning with Season 14, Championship Saturday would also feature a visit from a highly-ranked University Tennis Team. Last season it was the Keiser Seahawks. This season it would be the Florida Atlantic University (FAU) Owls! But more on that later.
During the course of the season, the League (me) kept track of a number of stats: W/L, Serves Held/Broken, and Total Points. We use these numbers to determine things like Point Differential and Turnovers and award the players who performed the best over the course of the 10-week season. Then on Championship Saturday, the winners of the tournament are our National Champions! We save the tournament until the end the Season because too many tournaments can cause “Tournament Burnout”. One big blowout is what most people are happiest with. And isn’t that why we play sports: to have a good time?
Season 15 Award Winners
One of our season-ending awards is the Pennant. This award
is given to the #1 team over the course of the 6-week Regular season. We awarded the top 6 players with the best W/L numbers in Doubles with this award. So for Season 15, the Pennant Winners were the Knights with a record of 4-2, and the top 6 players were Amaris, Emmanuel, Michael, Esteban, Alethea, and Ava (pictured right). Now, you’re probably wondering why the players are wearing different jerseys. It’s because All American Team Tennis is all about the “Team”. And to drive home that point, each player played on a different team each week of the season. It’s a way of building Community among tennis players. And isn’t that what sports are all about: Community?
Next up would be the MVP. The MVP is the #1 player on the #1 team. This season our MVP was Ava. Now, this is where all of the stats come in as Ava would lead the League in Doubles wins, Buckeye Leafs, Point Differential, and Turnovers.
- Doubles wins: 7 – 3 more than #2
- Singles wins: 4 – 2 behind #1
- Buckeye Leafs: 28 – 3 more than #2
- Point Differential: +47 – Tied for #1
- Turnovers: +9 – 2 more than #2
And her award for being the MVP was a backpack; which is symbolic of how she carried her team on her back. Get it?
Next, we recognized the Sportsmanship Award winners. This is an award where Coach Ken chooses the players who best exemplify the spirit of All American Team Tennis. AATT is about building Community among its players. Creating an atmosphere of camaraderie, teamwork, communication, and making friends. It is built on the pillars of Sportsmanship which are: Fairness, being Gracious, and Respect for others. I watched the players as they interacted with each other and looked for the ones who were kind, considerate, and just plain nice. I look for smiles and high-fives and listen for how the players talk to each other. For Season 15, the players who best exemplified the spirit of the “team” were Esteban, Rubie, and Alethea.
And we’ve saved the best for last: the National Champions! This one is very straight forward: the winners on Championship Saturday are the National Champions (I told you it was simple). Since each team has players from ages 6 to 13, we would play two courts of doubles, one for ages 6-10, and another for ages 11-13 to determine a winner. The total games won would be added together and the team with the higher score wins. On this day, Championship Saturday, the Owls would come out on top by a score of 12-7. Isn’t it ironic that OUR Owls would come out on top on the same day the REAL Owls were in attendance?! Crazy!
The Best Team in Palm Beach County
Now for the really exciting part: the FAU Owls, the Greatest Tennis Players in Palm Beach County came to our tennis courts to inspire the next generation of tennis player! It may not seem like a big deal to many of you but considering tennis tournaments only come here once a year (pitiful), having a Home Town Team is gigantic! The FAU Owls are a Div. 1 tennis team in the Sun Conference. On their schedule are teams like Central Florida, Old Dominion, and the Miami Hurricanes. The Owls would finish the season at 17-6, going 11-1 at Home. Next up for the Owls are the Sun Conference Championships in Tennessee, April 21-23.
The reason why a visit from FAU is such a big deal is because “celebrity matters”; and everyone knows about Florida Atlantic University. Their football stadium hosts the Boca Raton Bowl on ESPN each year. And the school is making headlines not only with their sports teams, but with their academics, too. And as a Div. 1 university, the FAU Owls are verifiably the BEST group of tennis players in Palm Beach County. Yes, Serena Williams lives in Palm Beach Gardens, but let’s be real: she doesn’t play here and she’ll never come to Palm Springs… so who cares. On the other hand, the FAU Owls are the Home Team and play all of their Home games in Boca Raton. It’s true their players come from Florida, Spain, Brazil, and France. But they’re big, they’re strong, they’re fast, and they’re Local. I can only imagine what would happen if there were a Professional tennis team playing here in Palm Beach County. What would it mean to the fanbase? Maybe THEN tennis could compete with other sports in terms of popularity. I’m being serious!
After putting on a show for the fans, and signing a few autographs, Coach Ken would bring EVERYONE onto the court to play a game called Caterpillar. It’s a volley game, with six players at a time, rotating extra players in and out. You should have felt the energy on the courts. The kids were excited, the parents were cheering, FAU was getting into it, it was the BEST DAY EVER! How many people can say they “played Caterpillar with FAU”? Hmm? It was an experience our players will never forget. And hopefully enough motivation to keep them playing, and watching, tennis… at least until next season.
Field Trips and Championship Saturday happen every season but only the last two have featured a visit from a Special Guest. It takes time to develop that kind of relationship which is why the majority of kids would rather play basketball and soccer than tennis. And why, overall, Americans would rather watch football and baseball than tennis. Tennis tournaments aren’t around long enough to establish themselves withing the Community. On the other hand, College teams like Florida Atlantic and Miami and Ohio State are NEVER leaving. They belong to us. They’re OUR team. Can you feel the difference?
There is a gold mine of tennis talent laying dormant on our College campuses. It’s time we put these players to work promoting the game; visiting schools and Parks departments, hospitals and nursing homes, signing autographs, showing people how much fun this game is to play AND to watch. Becoming a part of the Community is how fans are made. Florida Atlantic University is a part of our Community. The players and coaches live, work, and play right here in South Florida. They are not playing for themselves, but rather for all of us. That kind of give-and-take is why I proudly wear the colors of the FAU Owls. #OwlsUp
Intrigue, Drama, and Suspense
The Cleveland Cavaliers trail the Golden State Warriors 1-3 in the 2016 NBA Finals. What does that mean? Well, in a “best-of-seven” series, the Cavaliers need to win three games IN A ROW to win the series while the Warriors only need one. As it turned out, the Cleveland Cavaliers would do the unthinkable, winning 3 in a row, and taking the series 4-3 over the dazed-and-confused Warriors.
The Cleveland Indians lead the Chicago Cubs 3-1 in the 2016 MLB World Series. At this point, everybody wants to know if the Cubs have what it takes to turn things around or can the Indians hold on for ONE MORE GAME to win the World Series? Believe it or not, against all odds, the Indians would blow that lead, allowing the Chicago Cubs to break a 108-year-old “goat curse” and pull off the unimaginable. “Unimaginable” in the sense that throughout the history of Major League Baseball, there have only been six teams to come back from a 1-3 deficit to win it all.
While these are tremendous accomplishments for both the Cleveland Cavaliers and the Chicago Cubs, what does it mean to the FANS of these two teams? How does it feel to be a fan of the winning team? Of the losing team? How does it feel to be a fan of the team that is down 1-3? Or up 3-1? Imagine the intrigue, drama, and suspense of watching this best-of-seven series. And what does this have to do with tennis?
Best-of-Seven versus One-and-Done
I’m glad you asked. And the answer is “not much”; other than the idea that pro tennis would be infinitely more enjoyable if it was a best-of-seven series rather than a one-and-done tennis tournament. The reason: in a best-of-seven series there are more opportunities for momentum to swing in both directions. “But who would want to play a best-of-seven match” you say? “Isn’t a best-of-five match long enough? Who would want to watch/play THAT?!? It would take forever!!!” And to that I have to shake my head at the short-sighted, myopic view of most tennis “fans”. Many of them are unable to see beyond the tennis tournament (or the top 4 players in the world) to realize there’s a lot more to tennis that they know nothing about. I’m referring to what I like to call exciting tennis, or Team Tennis.
American Universities employ this best-of-seven Team format where every player on the team contributes to the end result and, honestly, I find it infinitely more enjoyable, interesting, dynamic, satisfying, entertaining, and exciting than tournaments. Seeing players working together to accomplish their goal speaks to me instinctively. No one person can be good at everything and asking one player to carry the entire burden of winning is unreasonable. Besides, what good is winning if you have no one to share it with? And no one should have to suffer through a loss alone, either.
TEAM: Together Everyone Achieves More
Tennis Tournaments Lack Real Signifigance
From a spectator’s point-of-view, watching a match between two peripheral players, where the outcome is of little significance, is boring. And unfortunately, tennis tournaments are chock full of players on courts 5 thru 14 that couldn’t be identified without a name badge and in
introduction, just waiting to be eliminated. Just pull up the draw sheet for any recent ATP or WTA tournament and you’ll see what I mean. They aren’t bad players, there just isn’t enough room in the winner’s circle, or in the Game Day program, for more than two people. On the other hand, the best-of-seven series, combined with a full Season of matches between Big 10, SEC, ACC, and Big 12 schools, gives the audience a compelling story that is not only significant… but easy to follow.
See, in Division 1 College tennis, games are often conducted in a best-of-seven format. Meaning, they will play tennis on 7+ courts simultaneously and the team that wins 4 courts wins the match. In the First, of two Rounds, players will pair up to play doubles on courts 1, 2, and 3. The team that wins two-out-of-three courts wins the Doubles Point. Then the teams move on to the round of singles and doubles teams will split up to play singles on courts 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, and 6. Here, each court is worth one point apiece. Together, with the doubles point, the team to win four out of the seven available points is the winning team. In Div. 2, 3, NAIA, and JUCO each doubles match is worth a point, resulting in 9 total points, so teams play best-5-out-of-9.
Hmmm. Sounds a lot like the World Series or the NBA Finals, doesn’t it.
Now, the team that wins the doubles point has the advantage going into the round of singles, but that does not guarantee a win because there are still 6 points remaining. So much drama leaves the audience guessing as to who will come out on top. And that’s exciting! What if one team is full of individuals who don’t play well together? What if one team is made up of primarily doubles specialists (aka. Team Players)? What if one of the doubles-winning teams is being carried by one of the players, so when they split up and play singles, they win one and lose one?
The Coach’s Contribution to Best-of-Seven
All of those are things that can factor into the end result. And we haven’t even talked about the Coach’s contribution yet! In College tennis, the Head Coach is responsible for determining the lineup for each team. That means some players will play both doubles and singles while some will play ONLY doubles or singles. It depends on how they perform in practice, how well they work together as a team, if they are injured, and who the opponent will be that day and the following day.
The Head Coach, along with the Assistant and Graduate Volunteer Coaches, must take all of these things into consideration. And on Game Day, all 3 Coaches monitor their players’ performance making corrections and adjustments when needed. And it is that complexity that makes College tennis an infinitely more intriguing product than tennis tournaments. By the way, ever wonder what a professional tennis coach does for a single player when the draw is pre-determined and coaching is ILLEGAL at tennis tournaments? It doesn’t sound like they have much to do!
On a side note: why is Coaching illegal at tennis tournaments? Name another sport where this is the case. What’s wrong with giving/receiving advice during competition? Is this why kids avoid tennis like toxic waste? Is this why so many lopsided tennis matches end 6-2, 6-1? Is winning not important? Is it really better for a player to carry the entire burden of competition by themselves? Is tennis a superior game and are tennis players superior individuals because they endure such torment (tennis coaches believe this)? And what kind of people are we producing as a result (If they last more than a month)? But I digress.
In terms of excitement, things like unpredictability, uncertainty, and facing adversity factor into a spectator’s enjoyment of a sporting event. Predictability, sameness, and a lack of creativity are what makes something boring. I believe College team tennis falls into the first category. Granted, when the #1 team hosts an unranked opponent, on paper, it can lack some of the flash. But when you consider a College tennis match is best-of-seven, every match is compelling. For example….
Watching a Best-of-Seven Tennis Match
Let’s say that the #45 Miami Hurricanes women’s tennis team were hosting the #17 Duke Blue Devils in Miami, and AATT had planned a field trip for some of our players to see it. What if the Duke Blue Devils were riding a 4-game win streak while the Hurricanes were on a 2-game losing slide? And the game was being played in Miami which means the Hurricanes have “Home Field Advantage” (there are no “Home teams” in tournaments).
On paper, this looks like a sleeper match. I mean, it’s #45 versus #17. But remember: College tennis is best-of-seven. Now you have to wonder: Can the Blue Devils continue their dominance, or can the Hurricanes turn their negative momentum around? Which team came ready to play? Is every player on the roster ready to compete? With the fandom of both Hurricanes and Blue Devils hanging in the balance, this is much more than a “sleeper” match. Because they are playing for more than themselves.
Duke would win two of the three doubles matches to take
the doubles point and go up 1-0. Duke would also win in straight sets on Court 3 to go up 2-0. And then on Court 1, the Miami player would roll her ankle and be unable to finish the match. Duke now leads 3-0.
On a side note, if I were in charge of tennis, and a player was unable to finish a match or was just playing poorly, I would substitute them. I mean, we want to win, right?
Anyway, with a 3-0 lead Duke would only need to win one of the 4 remaining courts to win the match. And the Hurricanes would have to win ALL 4. Miami would win in straight sets on Courts 2 & 5 making the score 3-2 in favor of Duke.
The Hurricanes would need three sets to win on Court 6 and now the score is tied 3-3 and it all comes down to Court 4. Court 4?!? You mean the fate of the entire team comes down to the #4 singles players for both squads?!? Wouldn’t you rather have your superstar in that position? How much faith do we have as Hurricanes/Blue Devils fans that #4 can win his match? Will the pressure of the situation get to either player? Or have they been preparing their whole lives for this moment? The remaining players from both teams are now watching from Court 3 and encouraging their teammate in this critical moment. And all of the fans are crowded around Court 4 to watch the final match play out. This feels a lot like Game 7 of the World Series! And we’re only 3/4 of our way through the SEASON!
When the Hurricanes player scores a point, the Hurricanes fans cheer.
When the Duke player scores a point, the Duke fans cheer. This is intense!
Everyone in the stadium is experiencing a wide range of emotions. When your team is ahead, there’s confidence that she’ll get the job done. When they’re behind, there’s fear. Fear that your player is beginning to press, to get in her own head, unable to block out the sound of cheers for the other team, and groans from her supporters when she misses. Hundreds of eyeballs are watching her every move, hoping the ball stays in, second-guessing that last shot, waiting for one of the Hurricanes or Blue Devils’ shots to land in the net. We’re up, we’re down, we’re inside-out! (Fans don’t do well in handling their emotions.)
And then the final ball is struck, it sails beyond the baseline, and players from the winning team come pouring onto the court, arms held high, shouting at the top of their lungs, to embrace their teammate, and share in the feeling of joy at having won the match for their team. It really is a sight to see.
While players from the losing team walk slowly onto the court, arms open wide, not in celebration, but to console their teammate after having lost the match. They know their teammate may be having a difficult, five-stages-of-grief, time dealing with the knowledge that they lost it all for their team; that theirs was the game to determine the entire match, but let’s be honest: everyone shares in the loss. It was a best-of-seven match which means no one has to carry the burden of winning/losing alone. That is what makes the Team so valuable.
There are a number of reasons why players join teams, and why spectators gravitate towards team sports. Team Sports satisfy the need for companionship in ways that tennis tournaments do not. As a fan, I may not be able to play at that level, but I can experience the highs and lows of competition through my favorite Team. And when my friends and neighbors are fans, too, I have someone to talk to about it. I am not alone when I belong to a Team. Ever wonder why sports fans “live and die” with their teams? Because the wide range of emotions that can only be experienced through competition are what make life so exciting. And those emotions are more readily experienced at a College tennis, best-of-seven, team-versus-team tennis match where my favorite Team is playing. One-and-done doesn’t do it for me.
And that, my friends, is why College tennis is infinitely more enjoyable, interesting, dynamic, satisfying, and entertaining than professional tennis tournaments.
What do you think? Which would you rather watch, best-of-seven or one-and-done, and why? What are your thoughts on the best-of-seven format? Who are your favorite teams? Have you attended many of their matches? Where is the best place to watch? Which teams have the best chance of making it in the NCAA Championship? I would love to hear your thoughts.
On Sunday February 26, players from the All American Team Tennis youth tennis league would travel to Boca Raton to witness the Florida Atlantic University Owls men’s tennis team take on the Florida A&M Rattlers. Players had high expectations for this field trip and the FAU Owls did not disappoint. Having personally attended a number of tennis matches in the past, Coach Ken was prepared for an afternoon of college tennis. Armed with his trusty Shade Tech canopies and Coleman portable propane grill, he would escort his players onto the hallowed grounds of the brand new FAU Tennis Complex. Ok… maybe ‘hallowed’ is a bit much. But it is a really nice facility!
There are a number of reasons why Field Trips are such a phenomenal part of any youth tennis program. First, College Tennis is the best and most readily available tennis product for
those most interested in the game. Both players and non-players can enjoy an afternoon at the local university watching some of the best players in the world.
Next, College Tennis teams play all of their Home games at the same location. Which means you have multiple opportunities to take in a match. Compare that with the pro tour where players sweep into town once a year for a week and then they’re off to the next exotic location. As a tennis fan, it feels kind of empty when there’s no tennis going on. Fortunately, the College Tennis season is 4 months long! And it’s 6 months if you count the pre-season matches in September/October. That’s what I call a “Full” season!
Third, giving players the opportunity to enjoy each other’s company away from the tennis court strengthens the bonds they’ve built on the court. From the anticipation leading up to the field trip, to arriving at the gathering place, to driving to/from the games, to the matches themselves, field trips are fun. Plain and simple.
This field trip would feature a matchup of the Florida Atlantic Owls of Conference USA hosting the Florida A&M Rattlers of the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference. The energy level is always high when watching FAU but things really ratcheted up when the third court of doubles would need a tiebreak to see who would take the doubles point (“Why are the doubles only one point?” you ask. We’ll talk about that later). With all of the spectators watching the action on only one court, everything felt much bigger. And when the referee took a point away from the Rattlers
for one of their players hitting the net with his foot, things really heated up. Fortunately, the Owls would keep their composure and hold on to win the doubles point and roll in the singles to take the match 4-0, moving their record to 9-3. The win puts Florida Atlantic in a two-way tie for second place in the Conference USA standings.
There’s much more to tennis than tournaments… and Field Trips are a big part of that. Attending a tennis match by yourself is good, but traveling with friends is what makes Field Trips so much fun. And the FAU Owls appreciate it, too.
So join us on our field trip and see what all the excitement is about!
“Ohio State is going to dominate the 2016 NFL draft. “
“His team could have as many as five players taken in the first round next year, with underclassmen such as Joey Bosa and Ezekiel Elliott leading the way.”
“Here’s an early look at the NFL talent who will be lighting it up for Ohio State this fall.”
These are lines from an article posted on the Bleacher Report website from May 5, 2015. The article goes on to give a breakdown of each player and his contribution to the Buckeyes for the coming season. Every day journalists across the country reach out to their numerous sources to gather information for reporting on their chosen team and its players. Television, websites, newspapers, even smartphone apps are flooded with valuable information concerning the players from your favorite team/sport.
But not tennis. Why?
College tennis rosters are full of players that any coach would give their non-dominant arm to work with. Players that have spent most of their lives training, traveling, and testing themselves against the best competition in their given region, both here and around the world. These are players that, if we were to play them ourselves, would make any one of us look like a clumsy, 5-year-old, uncoordinated, special needs child. And they all come together, at the same time, to go to college. So what happens to them after what many believe were ‘the best years of their life’?
When a top college prospect in football or basketball decides to go pro and declares for the draft, it sets a number of things in motion: agents, Pro Day, the Draft, visitations, contract negotiations, etc. Much of it taken care of by the player’s handlers so the player can focus on playing. In tennis, the player must be the CEO, CFO, HR, travel agent, administrative assistant, chief, cook, and bottle washer all at the same time. Once they leave college they are essentially on their own to navigate the treacherous waters of professional tournament tennis. And for what? A couple hundred dollars at the end of the week? It doesn’t seem worth it. In fact, a great many top college prospects burn out before ever realizing their dream of playing on the bigger stages. We can’t let this talent go to waste.
Tennis tournaments are a process of elimination designed to find out who’s #1. But how many #1’s can there be? You know the answer. But when the Denver Broncos, the Golden State Warriors, or the Kansas City Royals win a championship, how many #1’s are there? When the Vanderbilt women’s or the Virginia men’s tennis teams win the NCAA Championship all 11 players win the trophy. Unlike the Miami Open or US Open where only 1 player can take home the trophy, a greater number of people benefit from the success of the Team. And that number includes all of the fans, too.
A third of the top 25 college tennis rosters feature the names of players born outside the United States. And while some believe this to be problematic, the real story is the global nature of college tennis. When saddled with the responsibility of filling a roster of 10+ players, college coaches search far and wide for the best players available. Players who come up through the tournament ranks believing they might one day play professionally, are now filling college tennis rosters. In other sports they refer to college as a period of ‘maturity’. In tennis, college is the final destination. Washed up at 22?!? That is a very short-sighted view.
Follow me on this one: Imagine tennis as a Team Sport at the professional level, like it is in college.
It changes the entire tennis conversation from “who will be the next #1” to “my team just signed a prospect out of the Ohio State University to a 3-year contract worth $1.2 million. He could be a starter right away. How do they fit into the system Coach Ken has in place? And can the veterans on the team bring along the rookies to put the team over the top?” I’ve just given you more content for TV and radio than most tennis tournaments (mind blown). Imagine the growth of the tennis industry when we have more than 2-3 people to talk about; the talk shows, segments on ESPN, news crews covering the High School State Championship. Things really begin to open up.
So the next time you’re looking for world-class tennis, skip the tournament (you’re not missing anything) and visit your local university. Players who understand the value of the team are definitely worth cheering for. GO TEAM!
When was the last time you took your kids to a tennis match? Was it the
Delray Beach Open in February? Was it the Miami Open in March? Are you traveling to the US Open in August? For most people, tennis doesn’t rate high enough to set aside the time to take in a match. There are just too many other things to do. And given the infrequency of professional tennis tournaments coming to town, we’re just too busy to step away from our everyday lives to see the “Best in the World”.
But if you live in Boca Raton or Orlando or Coral Gables (or any other college town across America) you’re in luck! Because every January thru April the College tennis season kicks things into high gear! The great thing about College tennis (besides playing all of their Home games in one location) is that these players REALLY ARE the best in the world. Most college rosters are 50% international players meaning every team is loaded with the best college-age players making College tennis World Class tennis.
On Sunday February 14 All American Team Tennis traveled to Boca Raton to watch the Florida Atlantic University Owls host Army West Point. It would be a very tight match requiring all 7 points to be played (college tennis matches are Best of 7 so once a team wins 4 courts, the other matches stop playing) with Army West Point coming out on top, 4-3. There was a lot of yelling and cheering and shouting throughout with players AND spectators for both teams pumping up the players on the court. It was an experience much like a football or basketball game. The only thing missing was taligating!
And following the matches the Head Coach for the FAU Owls invited our players onto the court to meet the players where they would sign our jerseys and take pictures with us. Where else are you able to find this kind of accessibility?
Field Trips are a regular occurrence for All American Team Tennis as we take them EVERY season. We take our players to College tennis matches because College tennis players understand the value of playing on a team; the camaraderie, teamwork, friendships, and support all combine to make an overall enjoyable college tennis experience. In fact, our second of 3 field trips for Season 13 will be to Orlando to watch the UCF Knights host the Tulane Green Wave! At All American Team Tennis we endeavor to create memorable team tennis experiences… Because Life is a Team Sport.
On Saturday November 7, our Youth Tennis League traveled to the ESPN Wide World of Sports complex at Walt Disney World to witness the Collegiate Clay Court Invitational hosted by the Florida State University. It was a loooooong day for everyone which included watching matches in the morning at ESPN and playing matches in the evening at the Kiwi Tennis Club in Melbourne with a visit to Disney Springs in between. But even with the amount of time spent sharing a vehicle, our players will always remember the time we spent watching and playing tennis.
While attending the event at ESPN Coach Ken led the players from court to court gathering autographs from as many players as he could find, which wasn’t very hard because they were EVERYWHERE! You can see some of the autographs on the back of the shirts in the pictures.
Josie Kuhlman and Brianna Morgan of Florida, Yukako Noi of Florida State, Florida Gulf Coast, Clemson, Georgia, and others gave each of our players a little bit of their time and a signature to go home with. It was a truly memorable experience for us and, I’m sure, for the players, too. You’re not going to get this kind of attention at a professional tennis tournament!
But before we were ready to move onto our next destination, FSU Head Coach Dwayne Hultquist graciously accepted our invitation to speak to the group. So we all gathered around him while he spoke to the kids about being a part of the Team, doing your part to help the Team, and traveling with the Team to far away destinations like Hawaii. I just hope our players appreciated what it meant to have Coach Hultquist speak to the group. Because while he was speaking to us, the FSU Men’s team of Jose Garcia and Marco Nunez were embroiled in the heat of battle against the team from Louisville. Garcia and Nunez would go on to capture the title in the Gold division, taking out Pepperdine in the Final.
On the Women’s side, Josie Kuhlman and Brianna Morgan of the University of Florida would face Gators teammates Spencer Liang and Peggy Porter in the Final to also win the Gold division. They would destroy the Clemson team 8-4 in the semifinal.
Seeing a tennis match in person makes the game feel much more real. And watching college tennis players play their hearts out for the benefit of their team makes it all the more special. It is why All American Team Tennis places kids on teams, and why I believe tennis would be more popular if it were a Team sport at the professional level. Who knows… maybe one day.
NCAA Individual Championship
In my opinion, tennis tournaments are probably the hardest to report on because there are too many players playing too many matches, too many consecutive days with not enough time in between to prepare for the next. I can only imagine what it is like to be a player, but as a spectator, it’s my job to sort through the clutter of activity to gather what’s important to the reader. Because other sports operate on a periodic schedule of games, rather than week-long tournaments, commentators are able to build anticipation for the next game on the schedule making it more exciting when following your favorite team.
I understand the thinking that ’More is better’, but what about “Too much of a good thing”? College tennis is the best method of conducting the sport and should be implemented on the professional level. Why? When you follow a team over the course of a season you begin to identify with them. It becomes appointment viewing. Every game matters and every game is important. Plus the players have enough time to rest during the season, they take fewer days off. This keeps the fans interested.
For example, have you ever heard someone, in reference to the weeks leading up to a Major tournament refer to those tournaments as “tune-up” events? That would imply that the tournament is of little value other than to prepare the favorites for the next big one. By diminishing the importance of Indianapolis or Atlanta or New Haven you diminish every player in the tournament making the event less appealing. Why would I go to this event if it doesn’t mean anything? It’s like watching your favorite football team: why would I pay to watch a game that doesn’t matter? When college tennis teams work their way through a schedule of matches, against teams from across the country, all for a chance to qualify for the NCAA Championship at the end, every game is important. The season is not a “warm up” to the tournament, but rather a qualification FOR the tournament. A loss at the wrong time could drop a team in the standings and out of the Championship. A win at the right time could mean an easier draw when they’re accepted. Institute a season of scheduled matches and add significance to professional tennis.
Below you will find the results of the individual NCAA Singles / Doubles Championship for 2015 for players on Florida teams. It’s a lot to take in all at once, but it’s important to at least hear the names of players you are going to want to watch next season. Enjoy!
We can talk about why we’re playing this tournament another time.
For more on your favorite Florida college tennis teams follow us on Twitter @aateamtennis. GO TEAM!
#6 Doubles team Sophomore Courtney Keegan and Freshman Brooke Austin
Defeated Shayne Austin/Briar Preston of Arizona, 6-2, 6-2
Defeated Lauren Herring/Ellen Perez of Georgia, 7-5, 3-6, 6-3
Defeated Taylor Davidson/Carol Zhao of Stanford, 6-0, 1-6, 6-4
Lost to Klara Fabrikova/Zsofi Susanyi of California, 3-6, 6-4, 6-4
May 22, 2015 – The Gators’ top doubles team of Brooke Austin and Kourtney Keegan advanced to the Round of 16 with a win over Arizona’s #27-ranked Shayne Austin and Briar Preston, 6-2, 6-2. Brooke Austin: “I thought we played really well… really aggressively.” Kourtney Keegan: “I don’t think it’s always easy… getting into a rhythm…. Getting a lead early helps you relax a lot…. You just feel more comfortable out there, and I think that helps a lot because you get more momentum that way.”
#3 Freshman Brooke Austin – Lost in Round 1 to #47 Jennifer Brady of UCLA, 7-6 (3), 6-3.
#56 Sophomore Kourtney Keegan – Lost in Round 1 to #20 Carolina Price of UNC, 6-1, 6-3.
#28 Junior Brianna Morgan – Lost in Round 1 to #57 Madison Westby of USC, 6-0, 3-6, 6-4
#58 Sophomore Belinda Woolcock – Defeated Lorraine Guillermo of Pepperdine, 6-2, 6-3
Lost in Round 2 to Sabrina Santamaria of USC, 6-3, 6-3
#13 Freshman Josie Kuhlman – Defeated Kyle Phillips of UCLA, 6-4, 6-1
Defeated Viktoriya of Oklahoma State, 6-3, 6-4
Defeated Maegan Manasse of Cal, 6-4, 6-1
Defeated Sinead Lohan of Miami, 6-3, 6-4
Lost in Semifinals to Carol Zhao of Stanford, 2-6, 6-4, 6-0
#17 Doubles team Senior Lina Lileikite and Junior Stephanie Wagner
Lost to #11 Lauren Herring/Ellen Perez of Georgia, 6-2, 6-2
#37 Freshman Sinead Lohan – Defeated Lauren Herring of Georgia, 6-1, 6-4
Defeated Caroline Price of UNC, 7-6 (3), 7-5
Defeated Natalie Beazant of Rice, 7-5, 6-1
Lost to Josie Kuhlman of Florida in Quarterfinals, 6-3, 6-4
#11 Junior Stephanie Wagner – Defeated Blair Shankle of Baylor, 6-3, 6-2
Defeated Beatrice Gumulya of Clemson, 6-2, 6-4
Defeated Saska Gavrilovska of Texas A&M, 6-1, 4-6, 6-4
Defeated #1 Robin Anderson of UCLA, 3-6, 6-4, 6-2
Lost to Jamie Loeb of UNC in Semifinals, 4-6, 6-4, 6-2
#91 Freshman Alizee Michaud – Lost to Jasmine Lee of Mississippi State, 6-0, 6-4
May 20, 2015 – #91-ranked Freshman Alizee Michaud endured an 0-6, 4-6 loss to Mississippi State’s Jasmine Lee in the first round of the NCAA Singles Championship. This would be the first singles match Alizee has lost all season. Jasmine Lee was a first-team All-SEC selection and the #23-ranked player in America. A very tall order considering Michaud was playing for the first time since April 18, when Stetson lost to FGCU in the Atlantic Sun Conference tournament. Stetson Director of Tennis Pierre Pilote: “I believe her slow start had to do with her going about a month without playing any meaningful tennis… the second set was more of the quality level of play that we are accustomed to seeing from Alizee.” Alizee Michaud finished the regular season as the 2015 Atlantic Sun Conference Player and Freshman of the Year.
North Florida Singles
#96 Sophomore Jack Findel-Hawkins – Lost to Roberto Quiroz of USC, 6-4, 6-3
Jack was playing in his first match in over two months after being sidelined with an injury which makes his #96 ranking even more impressive. He won the Bedford Cup in the fall and the first Osprey to earn entry into the NCAA Singles Championship.
South Florida Doubles
#28 Doubles team Senior Oliver Pramming and Freshman Justin Roberts
Defeated Denis Nguyen/Brian Yeung of Harvard, 6-3, 4-6, 6-4
Lost to Harry Jadun/John Patrick Mullane of Michigan State, 7-6 (0), 6-4
Congratulations to Oliver Pramming on a successful season with the Bulls, helping the team achieve a #18 ranking and capture its first AAC title. Looks like Justin Roberts will have to find a new doubles partner next season. But one-half of the #28 Doubles in the nation shouldn’t have any trouble finding someone to play with.
South Florida Singles
#21 Junior Roberto Cid – Lost to Austin Smith of Georgia, 6-2, 7-6 (1)
Florida State Doubles
#16 Doubles team Juniors Benjamin Lock/Marco Nunez
Lost to Arjun Kadhe/Jakob Sude of Oklahoma State, 6-3, 3-6, 6-3
Florida State Singles
#44 Junior Benjamin Lock – Defeated Uros Petronijevic of San Diego, 6-7 (6), 6-3, 7-6 (4)
Lost to Ryan Shane of Virginia in Round of 32, 6-2, 6-1
The Miami Hurricanes Women’s tennis team had a very tall order in front of them in the Sweet 16 of the NCAA Championship. After handling the North Florida Ospreys in the first round, 4-1, and fighting off the Ole Miss Rebels, 4-3, they would next face the #2-ranked team in the nation, the North Carolina Tar Heels. The Hurricanes and Tar Heels had faced each other two times during the regular season with the Tar Heels coming out on top both times. But the Hurricanes were into the Round of 16 for the 10th consecutive season, and surging at just the right time.
The forecast for the day called for showers which is good and bad; good, because it would keep the temperature down. Bad, because the Tar heels are accustomed to playing indoors, and the Hurricanes would need all of the favorable “bounces” they could get.
The doubles matches were close at the start. Sinead Lohan and Stephanie Wagner led the charge on court 1 but a single break would tip the scales in favor of UNC, 5-4, and that’s all she wrote. UNC takes court one 8-4. On court two, Monique Albuquerque and Silvia Fuentes would struggle, never really gaining control over their UNC opponents, and dropping the deciding set 8-3. UNC takes the doubles point 2-0, Lileikite and Zhang did not finish.
Losing the doubles point certainly makes winning the match much harder, but the Hurricanes have 5 ranked singles players which means they still have a chance to take 4 of the singles and ultimately the match. Unfortunately, once the doubles matches had been played it started to rain, forcing the matches inside, which favors the Tar Heels. And due to the limited number of indoor courts the matches would be played 3 at a time. First up: Stephanie Wagner, Sinead Lohan, and Silvia Fuentes. Fuentes would be the first domino to fall losing the first set 0-6. Lohan would be next, dropping the first set, 3-6. Wagner would keep it close, winning the first set, 7-5. But it would not be Fuentes’ day as she would give court 3 to UNC, 0-6, 2-6. Lina Lileikite would take the court for the #4 singles match. On court two, Lohan battled to the very end. It looked very promising when she tied the score at 5-5 in the second set, but there was nothing left in the tank and Lohan would lose the match 3-6, 5-7. Wendy Zhang would take the court for the #5 singles match. On court one, Wagner would drop the second set, 2-6, sending #1 singles into a third set. You could feel the air leaving the room for the scrappy Miami team. On court 3, Lina does her best to keep the team afloat, taking the first set, 7-5, but on court two, Zhang drops the first set, 2-6. The one bright spot on the day would come from senior Lina Lileikite as she would take out the #102 player in America in straight sets, 7-5, 6-2, giving the Hurricanes their first point, they trail 3-1. Because shortly after Lina shook hands with her opponent, the Wagner match would finish with UNC on top, 5-7, 6-2, 6-4. UNC moves on to the Elite 8 with a 4-1 victory over the Miami Hurricanes. The loss had to be the hardest on senior Monique Albuquerque as she would not get to play in the last match of her career as a Hurricane.
Head Coach Paige Yaroshuk-Tewes: “I think UNC played a great match. We were expecting them to be on their game. I think Haley [Carter of UNC] started out so hot at no. 2 that it kind of set the momentum a little bit against us at the beginning….” She continued “We just didn’t play the doubles that I wanted us to play, but there were some bright spots.”
One of those bright spots would be the play of senior Lina Lileikite who would finish her singles career with a straight set win over a ranked opponent for Miami’s only point. On the season, Miami reached its 10th consecutive Sweet 16, finished in the top 4 of the ACC for the 11th year in a row, and is sending 3 players to the NCAA Individual Championship (Wait a Minute! Didn’t we just finish the NCAA Championship?!? Different Championship.) Wagner and Lohan will be competing in singles while Wagner and Lileikite will compete in doubles. This takes place May 20-25 at Baylor University.
It was a great season; one that Coach Paige can certainly build upon. Better luck next year. GO ‘CANES!
For more on the Miami Hurricanes follow us on Twitter @aateamtennis.
The University of Miami Hurricanes Women’s tennis team will meet the North Carolina Tarheels for the third time this season, but this time it’s in the Sweet 16 of the NCAA Championship. On the two previous occasions, UNC would come out on top; 4-0 on Feb. 7 and 5-2 on April 4. Pretty solid victories for the #2 team in the nation, but that was then and this is now. The Hurricanes are coming off of 2 solid wins in Regional play and playing some of their best tennis this season, accumulating ACC honors like a bookshelf collects dust, effortlessly.
And leading the charge for the ‘Canes is the ITA Southeast Region Player to Watch, Stephanie Wagner. Wagner would finish the season as the 11-th ranked singles player in the country and be selected to the All-ACC First Team. She has a 13-3 singles record at the No. 1 position, and when paired with Senior Lina Lileikite, the two of them would rank as the no. 17 doubles team in the nation. Stephanie would be the last one standing in the Hurricanes match against Ole Miss in the second round of the Tournament. After taking the first set 6-1, she would go down 3-5 in the second. It looked like a third set would be necessary, but Wagner moved into second gear, rattling off 4 straight games, and taking the straight set victory 6-1, 7-5. The win would send her team into the Sweet 16 for the 10th consecutive year.
In the no. 2 singles spot is the freshman out of Ireland, Sinead Lohan. Sinead would also earn All-ACC honors, placing 10th in the voting to make the second team. Lohan is the first player in Hurricanes history to be selected ACC Freshman of the Year; a sizeable accomplishment on a team with such history. Sinead currently sits as the #37-ranked singles player in the country in singles and with her partner, Wendy Zhang, possess a 9-4 record in doubles. In the first round of the Championship, against North Florida, Lohan downed her opponent 6-1, 6-1 and was the first player off the court. Against Ole Miss she routed her opponent 6-1, 6-3 and would, again, be the first one off the court. Her explosive play was too much for them to handle.
But wait, there’s more! the Hurricanes have a total of 5 nationally-ranked players compared to the Tarheels’ 4: #11 Wagner, #37 Lohan, #83 Clementina Riobueno, #108 Wendy Zhang, #115 Lina Lileikite. And in a best-of-seven match like those played in College tennis, the #2 team can fall at any time… like today at 10am against the Miami Hurricanes.
For more on your favorite Florida college tennis teams follow us on Twitter @aateamtennis. GO TEAM!
Florida Representin’ In The NCAA Championship
4 teams from the state of Florida entered Round Two of the NCAA Championship on Saturday with 3 teams moving on to the Sweet 16. On the Women’s side we have the University of Florida Gators and the Miami University Hurricanes. On the Men’s side we have the Florida State University Seminoles and the University of South Florida Bulls. Four teams ranked throughout the year, two of them hosting regional matches, one of them winning their Conference Championship.
Let’s start with the bad news. I started by saying 3 out of 4 teams made it to the Sweet 16, so who missed the cut.? It saddens me to say that the Florida State Seminoles were knocked out in less-than-glorious fashion by the Georgia Bulldogs, 0-4.
Here’s the promo the Seminoles put out following their loss to the Bulldogs. Not sure if I would have made such a big deal out of such an embarrassing loss. But, anyway. The Seminoles now move into the off-season where Juniors Benjamin Lock and Marco Nunez were selected to compete in the 2015 NCAA Div I Men’s Tennis Championship. Lock will compete in singles while Lock and Nunez will compete in doubles. Good luck!
Now for the good news!
The University of Florida Gators women’s team played host to Georgia Tech on Saturday, but could learn a thing or two about hospitality, dismissing the Yellow Jackets 4-0 to move into the Sweet 16. For the #5-ranked team in the nation, this match was never in doubt. The Gators won the doubles 2-0 thanks to the gritty play of Josie Kuhlman/Belinda Woolcock and Brooke Austin/Kourtney Keegan. Both matches lasted less than an hour with the final scores of 8-2 and 8-5, respectively. Spencer Liang and Peggy Porter were close to finishing their opponents when the outcome was determined.
In the singles, the Gators took the first set on 5 out of 6 courts. Securing the finish for UF would be Belinda Woolcock, Brianna Morgan, and Josie Kuhlman. Brooke Austin, and Kourtney Keegan were in the lead when the outcome was determined. According to Head Coach Roland Thornqvist: “Our doubles play was just exceptional all weekend. …I was very pleased to see that we were the aggressive team. If we weren’t, things could’ve been a little hairy… because their [Georgia Tech] No. 3 team has been on fire.” In singles, “Belinda [Woolcock] was just outstanding, as she was off the court right away (1:09) that certainly helped our momentum. We are playing, in my mind, the best tennis we have played all year and that’s certainly coming at a great time.”
The Florida Gators now travel to Waco, Tx to face Oklahoma State in the Sweet 16. The Cowgirls are 22-5 on the season and 7-2 in the Big 12, a very tough conference. Florida, however, is advancing to the Round of 16 for the 32nd time in team history. They are 28-3 in the Sweet 16, 24-4 in the Elite 8, 13-11 in the Final Four, and 6-7 in the Championship match, including back-to-back titles in 2011 and 2012. GO GATORS!
The University of Miami Hurricanes had a more difficult time in their Regional match against Ole Miss on Saturday. It started with the Hurricanes dropping the doubles point 2-0. The pairings of Sinead Lohan/Stephanie Wagner and Monique Albuquerque/Silvia Fuentes would both fall 8-4 to Ole Miss before Lina Lileikite/Wendy Zhang could finish their match. Lileikite/Zhang were leading 7-5. Head Coach Paige Yaroshuk-Tews “The job at that moment is calm them down, get then focused, get them on target, get them believing in themselves, and put it behind them.” Which is what they did.
In singles, Miami would need ‘all hands on deck’ to pull out the win. Freshman Sinead Lohan would be the first to finish downing her opponent 6-1, 6-3. The score is tied at 1-1. Miami would take a 2-1 lead thanks to a win by Senior Monique Albuquerque, 6-4, 6-1. Ole Miss would get a win over Lina Lileikete evening the score at 2-2. The next match to finish would be a Miami win thanks to Freshman Wendy Zhang, 6-2, 6-3. Miami now leads 3-2. But Ole Miss would tie it up again with a win over freshman Silvia Fuentes. Which means it all comes down to court #1, and the Junior from Amberg, Germany, Stephanie Wagner. Wagner had taken the first set handily, 6-1, but her opponent decided to show up for the second, keeping things close the entire time, holding serve and even taking a 5-3 lead. Stephanie would need a break of her own to keep things from getting out of hand. And she would do just that, winning 4 games in a row, and finishing her opponent 7-5 in the second, giving the Miami Hurricanes the 4-3 victory and a berth in the Sweet 16. The Hurricanes are now 3-1 when dropping the doubles point this season.
Up next for the ‘Canes are the #2-seeded and #2-ranked team in the nation, the North Carolina Tarheels. This could be a tall order as the ‘Heels are 28-1 this season, 14-0 in the ACC, and beat the Hurricanes 5-2 on April 4. Keep your fingers crossed!
Rounding out the Top 3 are the University of South Florida Bulls who would down Virginia Tech, 4-0, to make it to the Sweet 16. As simple as it sounds, the win would not come easy. Roberto Cid and Ignacio Gonzalez-Muniz would win their doubles match, 8-3, but the pairing of Sasha Gozun/Vadym Kalyuzhnyy would need a tie break to take the set 8-3. Oliver Pramming and Justin Roberts would not finish, but were behind 6-7 when the doubles point was decided. “Virginia Tech has very good doubles, especially No. 1 and No. 2. I thought our guys did a great job of playing smart and competing really well throughout” Head Coach Matt Hill would say afterwards.
In singles, Justin Roberts would step up to take the first point with a crushing 6-0, 6-2 defeat of his VT opponent. The freshman from the Bahamas has continued to perform following his contribution to the Bulls’ second straight AAC Championship. Vadym Kalyuzhnyy would be the next to finish his opponent with a 6-4, 7-6 (3) tiebreak win. The sophomore from Ukraine had been a major contributor to the Bulls’ success all season long. And rounding out the top 4 for the Bulls is Sasha Gozun, the sophomore from Moldova, who would need three sets to finish his opponent, 6-4, 4-6, 6-3. The win marks the first time in program history the USF Bulls have made it to the NCAA Round of 16, and are booking their trip to Waco, Tx for the Championships.
Up next for the Bulls are the #2-seeded and #2-ranked team in the nation, the Baylor Bears, who will be hosting the NCAA Championship on their home courts. Talk about “home field” advantage. The bears are 23-5 on the season, 4-1 in the Big 12, and would lose to Oklahoma in their Conference Championship. On the other hand, the USF Bulls won their second Conference Championship in dominating fashion, and are now on a 7-game win streak. Can #19 defeat #2, we’ll find out May 14 at 8pm.
For more on your favorite Florida College tennis teams, follow us on Twitter @aateamtennis.
Friday May 8th marked the kickoff of the 2015 NCAA Tennis Championship. 7 Teams represented the state of Florida. On the Men’s side: University of South Florida, University of Florida, Florida State University, and Florida Gulf Coast University. On the Women’s side: University of Florida, Miami University, and University of North Florida.
Many of the Florida teams would have a favorable draw coming into the tournament given how they finished the regular season. But there were a few notable exceptions.
Florida Gulf Coast Men – Finishing the season without a ranking, but winning their conference championship, would mean the Eagles would have to face UCLA in the first round. Not good. UCLA is the #15 team in the nation and would go 5-2 in the Pac-12, a very tough conference. Needless to say, FGCU would lose 4-0 to the Bruins to end their season. Better luck next year.
North Florida Women – The UNF Ospreys went 17-4 this season, 6-0 in the Atlantic Sun Conference, and would win their Conference championship. And for all of that they would receive #15 Miami Hurricanes in the opening round. The Hurricanes would go 12-2 in the ACC, another very tough conference. The ‘Canes were knocked out of their Conference championship so they were primed for revenge. They took it out on the Ospreys 4-0 in a match that wasn’t very close.
Other Florida teams received they draw they wanted, but one team did not get the result they were looking for.
University of Florida Men – The #21 Gators had the momentum coming in having won 3 of their last 4 including a win in their Conference championship. But the #42 Pepperdine Waves have had the Gators’ number going 5-3 in previous meetings and 2-0 in the NCAA tournament. Today would be no different as the Waves would drown the Gators 4-3 to move on to Round Two of the tournament.
Now, for the winners. Representing the southern part of Florida and moving on to the second round of the tournament would be the Miami Hurricanes women who soundly defeated the North Florida Ospreys 4-0. The doubles teams of Lohan/Wagner and Albuquerque/Fuentes would secure the doubles point while Lohan, Wagner, and Fuentes would put the finishing touches on the victory. Next up for the ‘Canes are the Runnin’ Rebels of Mississippi.
University of Florida Women – The Gators would receive one of the more favorable draws in the tournament, hosting the first two rounds at home, and facing Bethune-Cookman in the first round. They would make quick work of the Wildcats winning by a score of 4-0 and moving on to face Georgia Tech in Round Two. Georgia Tech would finish the season ranked 27, making it all the way to the finals of the ACC Championship. This could be tough.
Florida State Men – The Seminoles would have to travel to Athens, Ga. to begin the tournament. Finishing the regular season at #33 would mean starting in the middle of the pack, no easy task. Up first would be the Troy Trojans, winners of the Sun Belt Conference Championship. The ‘Noles were up to the task, soundly defeating the Trojans 4-0 and moving on to face the host team, the #7 Georgia Bulldogs. Could this be the end of the line for the Seminoles? We’ll find out May 9 at 3pm.
Rounding out the top 7 Florida college tennis teams are the Bulls of South Florida men’s team. The Bulls are repeat AAC champions and would travel to Blacksburg, Va. to face the Mountain West champions, the Boise State Broncos. These two teams faced each other in the regular season with The Bulls coming out on top. Today would be no different as they would rattle off a 4-0 win to move into Round Two, and to face host team, Virginia Tech.
Day One of the NCAA Championship is in the books and our teams are getting some rest for Round Two. Good Job, Florida!
For more on Game Day match results be sure to follow us on Twitter @aateamtennis.
Juniors Benjamin Lock and Marco Nunez
The Florida State Seminoles Men’s tennis team enter NCAA Tournament play on Friday, May 8, at 11am against the Troy Trojans at the Dan Magill Tennis Complex in Athens, Ga. The Seminoles received their 13th consecutive bid to the tournament thanks to finishing with a 19-10 record that would put them at #33 in the Nation. The Seminoles are a fairly young team, having only one senior on the roster, but thanks to the steady singles play of juniors Benjamin Lock and Michael Rinaldi, both nationally-ranked players at #44 and #109, respectively, Florida State would navigate the regular season for a shot in the playoffs.
Troy will be a test for Florida State, having finished their season at #53 (25-6) but the Seminoles have seen pretty stiff competition in the ACC this season with wins over Louisville and NC State. The Trojans, however, are in the Championship for only the second time in school history thanks to a 17-win improvement over last season. Troy put 5 players on the All-Sun Belt teams, including a couple of first team selections, Head Coach Scott Kidd would receive Coach of the Year.
These two teams faced each other in January with the ‘Noles coming out on top, 4-0. But the Trojans would finish the season on a 5-game win streak, including becoming Sun Belt Conference Champions. “Troy is a great team and Scott (Kidd) has done a great job there building that program,” said Head Coach Dwayne Hultquist. “They played a bunch of SEC teams tight and we know we’ll have to be ready for them.” Of course, every coach must show some respect to their opponent, but we all know the outcome of this one. Or do we?
The Seminoles are 3-3 in postseason play in Athens dating back to 1996. They are 13-17 all time in the NCAA Tournament and are looking for their first, first-round win since 2012. Last season, in the opening round, they would fall to South Florida. So a berth in the tournament is no guarantee of a victory… especially when you consider the Seminoles finished the regular season on a 3-game losing streak to enter the conference championship. The Seminoles would fall to #6 Duke, #4 Virginia, and #14 Virginia Tech; most recently losing to Virginia, again, in the quarterfinals of the ACC Championship.
Do the Seminoles have what it takes to rebound from these recent losses? Will the added time to recover be a boost or a burden to Florida State? Can the Trojans continue their end-of-season momentum into the NCAA Championship? Can the #13-ranked doubles team of Benjamin Lock and Marco Nunez earn three points for their team? Will senior Cristian Gonzalez Mendez end his career on a high note? Will freshman Terrell Whitehurst continue to contribute to the team in singles? We’ll find out, Friday morning, 11am, streaming on the Georgia Bulldogs network.
For the 20th season in a row, the University of Miami Hurricanes Women’s tennis team enters the NCAA Championship. They will face the University of North Florida Ospreys on Friday, May 8, at 2pm. The Ospreys were unranked in 2015 while the Hurricanes finished the season at #15 in the nation. Coming into the first round of the Championship, the Hurricanes received a very favorable draw and are expected to survive the weekend without a problem.
One of the players to watch this weekend is Senior Monique Albuquerque. Monique would lead the Hurricanes in dual match victories with 27; 13 in singles and 14 in doubles when paired with Clementina Riobueno, her partner for the past 3 years. But this would come as a surprise to everyone considering Albuquerque graduated last year with a degree in Economics and a 3.8 GPA. She even went through Senior Day festivities last year.
But after some soul-searching, and long discussions with her family in Brazil, Monique would decide to return to the U for her last year of eligibility. “I felt like I had some personal and team goals that I didn’t accomplish… and I really wanted to give it a try again. Also, the opportunity to come and get a master’s is something that you don’t have every day. It was the right choice.”
That would appear to be the case as Albuquerque has led the very young Hurricanes to a 16-6 record, 12-2 in the ACC, and currently sit at #15 in the nation. But she did not do it alone.
Also graduating this year, Senior Lina Lileikite would compile a record of 10-4 in singles and 12-4 in doubles when paired with Junior Stephanie Wagner. Lina came to Miami from Latvia and would immediately begin taking on honors. As a freshman, sophomore, and junior she would receive All-ACC Academic Team honors. In her sophomore year she would be named ACC Tournament MVP during the Hurricanes run to the quarterfinals of the NCAA Championship. And in her junior year she would receive Third Team All-ACC honors on their way to the Sweet 16 of the NCAA tournament.
Do the Hurricanes have what it takes to make it out of the Sweet 16 this season? Because this is where they could face the #2 team in the nation, the University of North Carolina Tar Heels. We’ll find out beginning this Friday, May 8, at 2pm at the Neil Schiff Tennis Center in Coral Gables, Florida.
The University of North Florida Men’s tennis team signs their latest 5-star recruit for the 2015-2016 season, Jonathan Deautriell. A native of Pembroke Pines, FL, Deautriell comes to the Ospreys from the Bill Clark Tennis Academy in Hollywood, FL. “I chose UNF because it was the perfect mix of academics, athletics, and social life,” said Deautriell.
In the juniors, Deautriell would be ranked as high as 60, nationally, and 7, in the state of Florida. He recorded his highest national ranking in 2012, climbing as high as 49; consistently high marks for the senior from Flanagan High School.
Deautriell has been enjoying his senior year of high school, but is really looking forward to playing for the North Florida Ospreys. “The dream is an NCAA title, but my main goal is to give everything I can to the team and school.”
UNF has been nationally ranked throughout the entire Spring, have gone 5-1 in the Atlantic Sun Conference, and would reach the Conference finals before falling to the Florida Gulf Coast Eagles in a close 4-3 finish. Could Jonathan Deautriell be the difference in the Osprey’s 2016? We’ll find out soon enough.
The Florida State Women’s tennis team were riding the ‘success’ wave going into the semifinals of the ACC Championship. Having defeated Pitt, Notre Dame, and Miami in consecutive days, the Seminoles were poised and ready to squish the Yellow Jackets.
The start time for the match would be pushed back and moved indoors because of the poor weather conditions, which would prove more beneficial to Georgia Tech than Florida State as the Jackets would take the doubles point 2-1. A rough start for the underdog Seminoles as they would need to win 4 out of 6 singles to win the day.
The Seminoles tried turning things around in the singles in an effort to break through to the ACC Finals. Georgia Tech would get the win on court 2 giving them the lead 2-0. But on court 6, despite needing a third set to finish the job, Emily Fanning would score the first point for the ‘Noles. Georgia Tech leads 2-1.
On court 4, the Georgia Tech player would down her opponent to give the Jackets a 3-1 lead. But the Seminoles had an answer for that as Daneika Borthwick and Gabriella Castraneda would win both of their courts in tense third sets. The score is tied 3-3.
Lastly, on court 5, the day would rest on the racquet of sophomore Daniela Schippers, a third ‘deciding’ match in as many days. Also going to a third set, Georgia Tech would take the early lead. Things were not looking good for Schippers as she fell behind 3-5 late in the third set. Schippers would regroup, tying the score at 5-5, but that would be all she could muster as her opponent would right the ship, taking the last 2 games, and win the match for the Yellow Jackets, 7-5. A difficult loss for the Seminoles.
“Today’s match was a matter of points,” Head Coach Jennifer Hyde said. “We played hard for close to five hours tonight. This match literally boiled down to a couple points and that is hard to swallow because you wish that those points turned out a little differently.”
“What a week,” Hyde said. Something definitely clicked this week. It has been clicking the last couple of weeks, but we really were able to show that in this tournament. We continue to be a very dangerous and motivated team. We look forward to the opportunity to continue this wave of momentum that they started early this semester, but really executed in the last few weeks.”
The Florida State Seminoles would finish just outside of the top 64 eliminating them from NCAA Championship play. Better luck next year.
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The University of South Florida Bulls Men’s tennis team entered the conference championship as the #21-ranked team in the nation and defending AAC champions. As the top seed in the tournament, the Bulls received a first-round BYE and would play the winner of the Temple-UConn match. Temple downed the Huskies, but were overmatched against the USF Bulls, falling 4-0 in the quarterfinals. The Bulls would go on to face the 5th-seeded Memphis Tigers.
In the Semifinals, the USF Bulls would need every player to contribute. The Bulls have been very consistent in doubles running up an impressive win streak that goes back to February 8, when they dropped the doubles point to the Ohio State Buckeyes. Well, today it happened again which meant they would have to win 4 out of 6 courts in singles, no small task. Fortunately, Roberto Cid, Oliver Pramming, Sasha Gozun, and Justin Roberts would step up to give the Bulls the victory and send them into conference finals for the second year in a row.
In the Finals, the Bulls would have to face the host team, on their home courts, in the form of the #28 Tulsa Hurricanes. As a conference championship, I’m sure the Bulls expected the Hurricanes to put up a much bigger fight, but it was not to be. The Bulls took the doubles point 2-1 thanks to the pairings of Oliver Pramming/Justin Roberts and Sasha Gozun/Vadym Kalyuzhnny and would go up 1-0 in the match.
In singles, the Bulls manhandled the Hurricanes winning the first 3 singles match and cutting the match short. Justin Roberts would take court 5, 6-4, 6-3. Ignacio Gonzalez-Muniz would take court 4, 7-5, 6-2. And Oliver Pramming would take court 2, 6-4, 6-3 giving the Bulls the decisive 4-0 win and the Conference Championship.
The University of South Florida Bulls are now back-to-back Conference Champions and with the win move up to #19 in the rankings, making them the highest ranked Men’s tennis team in the state of Florida, ahead of the #21 Florida Gators, the #33 Florida State Seminoles, and the #68 North Florida Osprey.
All teams now wait for the NCAA selection show, to air April 28th at 5:30pm, to find out who they play in the NCAA Championships.
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Florida State Assistant Coach, Susie
In Defense of College Coaches
The purpose of college is to train you for future work. Whether it’s as a teacher or an engineer, colleges build upon what you learned in high school to train you for a better future. The same is true for professional athletes, only your instructors are your coaches: offensive coordinator, pitching coach, strength and conditioning coaches, etc. When a high school football player is choosing a college they often consider the things that will help them achieve their goal of playing in the NFL. They consider the location, yes, the history, of course, but let’s not forget the coaches. Is this coach the right coach to get you to the pros? How many other players have they gotten to the pros? This is one of the considerations of college recruiting in sports like football and basketball.
What about college tennis? How many college coaches send their players to the pros? How many college coaches go pro, themselves? Is college even on the path to the pros? Unfortunately, the path to the pros doesn’t go through college. So what about the coaches? If a coach’s value to the university is determined by their team’s accomplishments, and the path to the pros goes around college, how much is a college tennis coach really worth? Coaches are not responsible for a player’s academics, that is in the realm of the professor. They don’t partake of other college extra-curriculars (parties), either. And now we see they can’t get a player to the pros. So what, exactly, do they do? What is their value? What is their worth? Are they nothing more than after school, junior program, tennis instructors, offering a way to pay for college to their small group of players?
Until professional tennis becomes a team sport, colleges and college coaches will remain in a sort of limbo, between accepting high school players who have given up the dream to play professionally, and a professional sport not interested in college talent. It is a situation that must be remedied for not only the game as a whole, but specifically for college tennis coaches.
Consider, for a moment, what a college tennis coach is being asked to do: take a group of players, from different parts of the country, sometimes the world, bring them all together, and get them to play as a team. This is a monumental task considering the tennis environment and players’ attitudes. Tennis players a raised from a very young age to believe they are in it only for themselves, everyone is an opponent, a doubles partner is more of an anchor than a sail, and the best players play singles, while the leftovers play doubles. Now… take those players and make a team out of them, produce a winning record to get into the Conference championships, and eventually the NCAA championships. Good luck. And what do they get in return? A tangible lack of respect from society-at-large because they coach a Team of players rather than an individual. But I would argue that the college tennis coach is an even more accomplished coach because of everything they are asked to do.
The only solution to this problem is to abandon the tour and bring tennis back home. Establish professional tennis in America as a team sport and allow college coaches to work with the next generation of professional tennis talent. Recruit from High Schools, get drafted by the Pros, and watch the sport explode in America. And who knows… maybe your favorite college tennis coach will get called up to the Big Leagues, too! GO TEAM!
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Picture says a thousand words, doesn’t it?
On Saturday April 18, All American Team Tennis traveled to Coral Gables to watch the Hurricanes/Seminoles women’s tennis match. It was a great day to play unless you were one of the Seminole players who lost 5-2 in a match that wasn’t very close. But that’s to be expected when #73 goes up against #16, right? Well, on Thursday, April 24, less than 7 days later, the Hurricanes and Seminoles would meet again… but this time in the quarterfinals of the ACC Championship in Cary, NC.
The Hurricanes entered the ACC tournament as the #2 seed and would receive a bye on Thursday while the Seminoles took the Fighting Irish all the way to the 7th, and final, match of the day with a 6-4 win in the third set. Thanks to senior Mia Vriens’ steely nerves, the #10 seed Florida State Seminoles would survive to fight another day. Unfortunately, their next opponent would be the team who beat them the previous week, 5-2.
The Seminoles would be facing the Hurricanes for the third time this season, having lost the first two. Would the third be any different?
In the round of doubles, on Court 2, Seminoles Emily Fanning and Gabriella Castaneda would make easy work of the Hurricanes taking the set 8-2. Courts 1 and 3 would be a bit more challenging as Hurricanes Sinead Lohan and Stephanie Wagner would need a tiebreak to down the Seminoles 8-7 (3) leaving the doubles point in the hands of the players on Court 3. And it would be Mia Vriens and Carrie Cartwright taking the doubles point for the Seminoles with an 8-6 win. The Seminoles lead 1-0 on the day.
Next up… singles. Stephanie Wagner easily defeated her opponent with a quick 6-2, 6-2 win for the Hurricanes on court 1. The score is tied 1-1
On court 5 Lina Lileikite would also make things look easy defeating her opponent 6-2, 6-2. Hurricanes lead 2-1.
On court 4, Gabriella Castaneda of Florida State managed to secure the lead over her opponent to take her court by a score of 6-3, 6-4. The score is tied at 2-2.
On court 6, Seminole Emily Fanning would be quick to follow her teammate downing the Hurricane player 6-4, 6-4. Seminoles lead 3-2.
On court 2, the Hurricanes would need a second set tiebreak to down the Seminoles. And thanks to a 6-4, 7-6(4) win by Sinead Lohan, the score is once again tied at 3-3 meaning the winner of court #3 will take their team into the next round of the Playoffs.
Yukako Noi of the #73 Seminoles would need a tiebreak in the first set to take it 7-6(5). Clementine Riobueno would come roaring back to take the second set 6-1. But it would not last as Noi took the early lead in the third and deciding set and would not look back finishing by a score of 6-2.
The scene of the Seminoles celebrating Noi’s victory closely resembled that of Vrien’s victory the previous day. The Seminoles appeared genuinely excited to make it as far as they have in the ACC Championship given the ups and downs of the regular season.
“This team is on a mission,” head Coach Jennifer Hyde said. “They are taking things one day at a time right now. Yesterday we depended on three different kids to clinch all of the singles points and today we had three completely different spots step up and win today. It speaks to the depth and the confidence we have in every single position on this team.”
Next up for the 10-seeded Seminoles are the 6-seeded Yellow Jackets of Georgia Tech. This match will be broadcast live on ESPN3.
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The #73 Florida State Seminole womens tennis team were coming off of an easy first round win over Pitt, 4-0, and now face #36 Notre Dame in the second round of the playoffs. Notre Dame jumped out to an early lead by taking the doubles point thanks to a 7-game win streak by the Irish on court 3.
In singles it would come down to the very last court, as both teams were fighting for their lives. Yukako Noi would win her singles to tie the overall score at 1-1. Senior Daneika Borthwick would make the score 2-1. The Irish would tie it at 2-2. Notre Dame would go up 3-2 but Daniela Schippers would tie it at 3-3. And it would all come down to Senior Mia Vriens on court 5. Mia goes up 1-0 then ties it at 2-2. Mia goes up 3-2 then ties it at 3-3. Mia goes down 3-4 but rallies to take the lead at 5-4 and was able to close out the match at 6-4 in the third set. A huge win and a tremendous upset for the Seminoles who move on to face their hated rivals, the Miami Hurricanes who received a bye and begin their tournament play on Friday against the Seminoles.
The FSU Mens tennis team traveled to North Carolina on Thursday for the ACC tournament and would face NC State in the first round of the playoffs. The Seminoles faced the #37 Wolfpack as recently as two weeks ago, and were hoping to get another victory on Thursday.
It can be very difficult to beat a team twice in one season because the losing team learns something from the previous loss. NC State would put a scare into the Seminoles taking the match to the 7th and final court. It would take all 3 doubles for the Seminoles to take the doubles point, 2-1. On court 1 Benjamin Lock and Marco Nunez, and on court 3 the twins Terrell and Terrence Whitehurst would need a tiebreak to put away the ‘Pack. And in singles, the Noles would need 3 tiebreaks to score a narrow 4-3 victory. Christian Gonzalez Mendez, Jose Garcia, and Terrell Whitehurst would each score one point for the team to push Florida State into the next round of the playoffs. Next up for the Seminoles are top-seeded Virginia who beat the Seminoles 6-1 just last Friday. Good luck!