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Jared

TCU Tennis 2019-2020

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Rybo and Svajda lost their doubles match 3-6, 6-1 (6-10) at Rancho Santa Fe, so that concludes a bad week for Frog tennis pros with early losses by all.  The main draw for the Aussie has been announced and Cam Norrie's first opponent will be Pierre Hugues Herbert (ATP#64; France), who most recently was in Doha where he went into the 3rd round and lost to Rublev.  It's scheduled for the 20th, in about 4 days.  Heavy rains have diminished many of the fires in Australia, so hopefully, the tourney can go on without too much trouble.  Herbert is mostly a doubles specialist, but his singles ranking is similar to Cam's, so it should be an even match.

 

But the big news is the upcoming season opener against Arizona State.  There are a lot of unknowns - what will our line-up be?  Will we see our new freshmen?  Which ones?  How good are they?  Has Kruger recovered from injuries?  Is Gray our #1?  It's scheduled for Saturday at 1:00 p.m. (MST).  The Sun Devils open their season tonight against Grand Canyon, so they'll get a dual match in before they host the Frogs.  ASU is coached by Matt Hill; they return some very good players, including Andrea Bolla (Italy), William Kirkman (Dominican Republic), Nathan Ponwith (Scottsdale), Makey Rakotomalala (France) and Tim Ruehl (Germany) (basically, their whole team from last year), but they also have a bunch of highly touted freshmen.

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The #25 Sun Devils easily swept Grand Canyon last night 4-0 in under 2 hours, starting the season 1-0 with a W.  But at least we got the opportunity to scout their line-up.  They put (1) Makey Rakotomalala; (2) Andrea Bolla; (3) freshman Christian Lerby; (4) freshman Tom LeBlanc; (5) freshman George Stoupe; and (6) freshman Jonah Wilson out in singles and Rakotomalala/LeBlanc; Stoupe/Lerby; and Ruehl/Bolla in doubles.  Undoubtedly, we'll see more of their upperclassmen tomorrow.  They'll have the advantage of prior action, but it wasn't competitive and the opponent wasn't all that impressive, so I'm not sure it's that much of an advantage.  Still, though, with virtually their whole team back and the Frogs having lost Rybo and Widow, I'm not really liking our chances on the road.  I'll be working tomorrow, so no live reports from me, but the re-cap will be available tomorrow night.

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Yesterday was a very good W for the team in its opening dual match of the Spring season.  To get a victory over a Top 25 opponent on the road is always good, but given Roditi's prior record of slow starts and the fact that we lost so much and had so many new freshmen to break in, I was actually expecting a loss.  So the 5-2 W over the Sun Devils is a very good sign that we might actually deserve our lofty ranking in the early part of a transition year.  Our line-up was (1) Gray; (2) Paroulek; (3) Fomba; (4) Fearnley; (5) Jong; and (6) Roldan and in doubles, it was (1) Gray/Fearnley (our Brits); (2) Jong/Paroulek and (3) Kruger/Fomba.  The doubles matches started out badly, with all 3 teams going down a break early, but they all fought and (2) and (3) ended up with the wins and (1) was also ahead but unfinished.  And then, Gray, Fomba, Fearnley and Jong all won their singles matches for a relatively convincing win.  Maybe #2 is a little high for Paroulek - we'll see.  Kruger played, but only in doubles - I predict he'll be back in singles shortly.  Gray taking down Rakotomalala was impressive and bodes well for some tough #1 matches he'll play.  The Sun Devils did have two upperclassmen out with injuries, so they once again played a bunch of freshmen - this was probably a factor in our W.  We're now 6-0 all-time against ASU.

 

Next Saturday, we'll host the ITA Kickoff - opening up with Florida Atlantic.  If we win, we'll play the winner of Notre Dame/Arizona for the right to go to the Indoor Nationals in Madison two weeks later.  After yesterday, I like our chances against FAU; Notre Dame is probably the favorite in the other bracket and they're highly ranked.  Making the Nationals is key because we'll get a lot of good competition there if we qualify.

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Here's a good article on Cam Norrie and his upcoming battle against Pierre Hugues Herbert in the opening round at the Aussie: https://www.theguardian.com/sport/2020/jan/19/cameron-norrie-australian-open-pierre-hugues-herbert.  Cam will be shooting for his first-ever W at Melbourne tonight at 11:00 p.m. (CST).  The Guardian doesn't like his chances, but Cam does.  He's also very complimentary about his time with Tim Henman as the ATP Cup Coach for the Brits.

 

FAU is already 2-3 on the year, with W's over Florida A&M and ETSU and losses (0-7 for each) to #1Florida, South Florida and Florida State.  The Owls are a solid respectable C-USA squad who qualified for the ITA Kickoff by finishing in the Top 60 last year.  The Kickoff is essentially the first two rounds of the ITA National Indoors,a huge sprawling national tourney that traditionally marks the beginning of the Spring tennis season.  It consists of 15 regionals, with 4 teams each, the winners of which will punch their tickets to the Nationals two weeks later.  Wisconsin, the host, is guaranteed a berth in the Nationals, but all the others must qualify.  TCU is hosting a regional (yet again) because the Frogs finished in the Top 15 last year and the other Ft. Worth participants chose to come to Ft. Worth via a draw that was held last June.  Notre Dame opened the season last night and lost to Kentucky, but they are hosting Purdue tonight for a chance to get their first W.  Arizona opened with 2 W's over Hawaii and beat UC-Riverside and Northern Arizona yesterday;  so they are now 4-0.  Both the Irish and the Wildcats are in the "Also receiving Votes" category of the preseason Top 25, so maybe the Cats should be favored in the other bracket.  If we make the Nationals, the tourney brackets will reflect the rankings, but even the first round losers are guaranteed at least 3 matches against Top 16 opponents.  And because the tennis rankings are not like other sports (cough cough football), the system encourages as many matches as possible against top teams so as to build one's resume for the NCAA's - you want to play the good teams because that earns you more ranking points.  Last year, for example, we got matches against UNC, Mississippi State and UCLA.  This will be the Frogs' first home match - hopefully, it will be outside and will get a good turnout. 

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Cam was supposed to start about an hour ago, but his match has been delayed, so I don't think I'm going to stay up for it.  Hopefully, he'll get his first-ever W at the Aussie.  Details tomorrow.

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Norrie v. Herbert finally started around 2:00 a.m. (CST) and the match went 5 sets and lasted 3 hours 43 minutes, so I'm glad I didn't stay up for it.  Cam fought hard but lost 5-7, 6-3, 6-3, 5-7, 4-6, so he'll have to wait another year to get his first Aussie W.  It looked good after 3 sets with Cam up 2 sets to 1, but Herbert stiffened his resistance and was able to get the key breaks to win.  Norrie is still in the doubles, teaming with Martin Fucsovics.  They're scheduled to play Ram/Salisbury tomorrow in the opening round. 

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The new ITA rankings were released today and, as expected, due to #2 Texas's W over #1 Florida, the Longhorns are now #1 in the nation.  TCU remains 8th after our opening W over #25 Arizona State.  Otherwise, there weren't many changes.  As a reminder, the first few weeks are based on a poll; the rankings won't convert into the points-based system until after the ITA Indoor Nationals next month. Here they are:

 

1. Texas (the defending champs and victors over Florida)(on our schedule)

2. Florida (obviously still formidable)

3. USC

4. North Carolina (on our schedule)

5. Baylor (on our schedule)

6. Ohio State

7. Wake Forest

8. the Fighting Frogs of lil ole TCU

9. A&M

10. UCLA

11. Stanford (on our schedule)

12. Illinois (on our schedule)

13. California

14. Oklahoma State (on our schedule)

15. South Carolina

16. Tennessee

17. North Carolina State (up from 23rd)

18. Columbia (on our schedule)

19. Georgia

20. Michigan (on our schedule)

21. Florida State (up from NR)

22. Oklahoma (on our schedule)

23. Virginia (on our schedule)(down from 10th after a slow start)

24. San Diego

25. Arizona State (W)

 

Also receiving votes: Alabama; Arizona (at the Ft. Worth Regional on Saturday); Kentucky; Louisville; Mississippi State; Notre Dame (at the Ft. Worth Regional on Saturday).

 

11 teams of the Top 25 are on our schedule as well as Arizona and Notre Dame whom we might face this weekend.  If we make the ITA Nationals, maybe 3 more.  The individual singles and doubles rankings aren't available for a few more weeks.  5 of the 6 Big 12 teams are ranked.  The separate CTR (a different website) rankings have the Frogs at 7th.

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For some reason, Cam's doubles match at the Aussie was canceled and the other team (Salisbury/Ram) moved on to the next round, so Cam is now done at Melbourne in doubles as well.

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2 hours ago, Jared said:

For some reason, Cam's doubles match at the Aussie was canceled and the other team (Salisbury/Ram) moved on to the next round, so Cam is now done at Melbourne in doubles as well.

From the Daily Mail...

An unhappy visit to the Australian Open came to an end for current British No 2 Cam Norrie when he was forced to make a late withdrawal from the men's doubles. 

Having lost a desperately tight singles first round to Pierre Hugues Herbert he was due to play doubles with Marton Fucsovics only for the Hungarian to withdraw with a very much precautionary injury, because he is in the third round of the singles. The beneficiary, ironically, was Dan Evans, who with his partner John-Patrick Smith was slotted in as an alternate to play fellow Brit Joe Salisbury and American Rajeev Ram, the 11th seeds.

https://www.dailymail.co.uk/sport/tennis/article-7919577/SIX-THINGS-MISSED-AUSTRALIAN-OPEN-DAY-FOUR.html

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The Ft. Worth Regional of the ITA Kickoff will start off tomorrow at 11:00 a.m. (CST) at the tennis center with the match between Notre Dame and Arizona.  The Irish are now 1-1 with a W over Purdue after their opening loss to Kentucky.  Zona is 4-0, with 4 easy W's.  TCU v. FAU will follow and it's scheduled for 2:00 p.m. (CST).  The losers of the openers will face each other at 11:00 on Sunday and the winners at 2:00.  The mini-tourney will feature 9 ITA ranked singles players, including Gray, Fomba and Fearnley for the Frogs and as well as #5 Richard Ciamarra (Notre Dame); #36 Filip Malbasic (Arizona), #58 Maxime LaPraille (FAU), #61 Jonas Zverts (Arizona), #86 Alejandro Riquant-Bicardi (Arizona) and #102 Axel Nefve (Notre Dame).  We'll be heavily favored against FAU; the Cats-Irish match will probably be very competitive (I'm picking Arizona).

 

14 other Regionals will also take place hosted by Texas, Wake Forest, Ohio State, Florida, Virginia, Baylor, North Carolina, USC, Mississippi State, UCLA, Stanford, Tennessee, A&M and Illinois.  The hosts usually win, but there are upsets sometimes (notoriously, in recent years, TCU lost to Utah State and San Diego).  If I had to pick an upset, I'd go with North Carolina State in the Virginia Regional and either OU or Georgia in the Mississippi State Regional because Virginia has started out weakly and Mississippi State lost a ton, including Nuno Borges.  Texas and Florida are probably the biggest favorites. 

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Arizona v. Notre Dame has already started, but for some reason, I can't get the live stats to work.  TCU v. FAU will start at 2:00ish, but I'll be at work, so details later tonight.

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The #8 TCU Frogs moved to 2-0 today with an easy 4-0 sweep of the FAU Owls in the opening round of the Ft. Worth Regional of the ITA Kickoff.  Tomorrow, at 2:00 p.m. (CST), we'll play the 5-0 Arizona Wildcats, who earlier prevailed over the Notre Dame Irish 4-2.  The Frogs won the doubles point soundly, with a 6-2 W by our Brits (Gray/Fearnley) and a 6-2 win from Sander Jong and Tadeas Paroulek.  And in singles, Jacob Fearnley started things out with a 6-3, 6-2 W;  Luc Fomba won 6-3, 6-3,  and Tomas Jirousek provided the clincher 6-2, 6-2 in his TCU debut.  So it was freshmen and sophomores that carried the day, which is a good sign for the future and for our depth.

 

Roditi was pleased with the depth but described Zona as a "fiery" team and they'll certainly be a tougher opponent.  We should be favored, but nothing is a given.   Across the country, Illinois was the only host that I saw that lost their opening rounder.

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There were 3 upsets  in the ITA Kickoff Weekend Regionals around the country - as predicted, Virginia, and Mississippi State lost and South Carolina and NC State advanced to Madison instead.  And, Illinois also lost and Michigan advanced.  But all the other favorites won, so the field is set and will include Texas, Florida, USC, Stanford, Columbia, Ohio State, A&M, UCLA, Baylor, UNC, Wake, the Fighting Frogs of lil ole TCU and the three upset winners South Carolina, NC State and Michigan  Wisconsin will host and the event will take place in three weeks in Mad City.  This is a great result for the Frogs as we'll have a chance to win it as well as match up against (at least) 3 top teams.  Making the Indoor Nationals is always a good sign that we remain in the "club" - the elite of college tennis.

 

The W over Zona yesterday was another 4-0 sweep and there were a number of really positive signs from it.  In doubles, our British team (Ali Gray and Jacob Fearnley) got a bagel, winning 6-0 and Luc Fomba and Bertus Kruger cruised as well 6-2.  And then in singles, Gray won in straight sets over a ranked opponent 2 and 3,  Tomas Jirousek got another victory with a 6-2, 7-6 (7-2) straight setter and Tadeas Paroulek provided the clincher with a 3-setter over a ranked opponent 3-6, 6-1, 6-2.  And we were leading in all of the other (unfinished) matches  - all of which had gone to 3 sets.  Ali and Tadeas' W's over ranked opponents are very good indicators and Tomas' W again at #6 is also a very good sign.  Roditi seemed pleased - W's over both Arizona schools is a good start to the season.  The only bad sign is 4 singles matches going to 3 sets.  We're now 3-0, still undefeated on the new season.

 

But we now enter the toughest stretch of the non-conference schedule, which will include 6 straight matches against Top 30 opponents.  On Saturday, we head to Ann Arbor to take on #20 Michigan, then we're off to play #24 Virginia in Charlottesville, then we host #4 North Carolina in Ft. Worth.  After that, it'll be 3 tough matches at the ITA Indoors.  We're 3-0 now, but we could be 3-6 shortly.  We've got to convert our good start so far into good performances in the next few weeks.

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Alex Rybakov (now ATP#520) has traveled to Weston, Florida for an ITF tourney there.  Yesterday, he won his qualie match over Daniel Vrba love and 1 and is now scheduled to play Ivan Denisov and then Christofer Goncalvez. 

 

Jerry Lopez (o Gerardo Lopez Villasenor si prefiere espanol) (ATP#513) is back in (you guessed it) Cancun for yet another ITF tourney there where he is already into the main draw and seeded 4th.  Nick Chappell (ATP#468)is also there and seeded #2.

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Alex Rybakov has been very busy in Weston.  First, he beat Ivan Denisov 6-4, 7-4 yesterday to win his 2nd qualie match at the ITF tourney.  Then, today, he advanced to the main draw with a 7-5, 6-1 W over Christofer Daniel Goncalvez in his 3rd qualie.  Tomorrow, in the main draw, he's scheduled to play Colombian Nicolas Barrientos (ATP#786) in the Round of 16.

 

Nick Chappell got revenge for his most recent loss by beating Brazilian Mateus Alves (ATP#710) in his opening round at Cancun, where he's had some success lately.  He's now scheduled to play Frenchman Jean Thirouin (ATP#655) in the quarters.  I can't find Jerry Lopez's information, so maybe he withdrew from the event.

 

The Frogs are getting ready to go to the Big House to play Meeechigan.

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Alex  just lost to Barrientos in a 3-setter 6-7 (5-7), 6-3, 4-6 in Weston, so after winning 3 qualies, he's out in the Round of 16 there.  Nick Chappell will be playing Thiriouin tonight at 9:00 in Cancun.   And Jerry Lopez is in the Cancun tourney - he won last night against Juan Alejandro Hernandez Serrano (ATP#863) 7-6 (7-0), 5-7, 7-5 and is now scheduled to face Dusty Boyer (#629) tonight as well. 

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The new ITA rankings are out and there wasn't a whole lot of change other than the upset winners from the ITA Kickoff Regionals all moving up.  Here they are:

 

1. Texas (on our schedule)

2. Florida

3. USC

4. North Carolina (on our schedule)

5. Baylor (on our schedule)

6. Ohio State

7. Wake

8. the Fighting Frogs of lil ole TCU

9. A&M

10. UCLA

11. Stanford (on our schedule)

12. South Carolina

13. Columbia (on our schedule)

14. NC State

15. California

16. Michigan (on our Schedule for Saturday)

16. (tie) Tennessee

18. Georgia

19. Illinois (on our schedule)

20. Oklahoma State

21. Florida State

22. Mississippi

23. Mississippi State

24. Kentucky

25. Arizona (W)

 

ARV: Alabama, Arizona State (W), Harvard, Louisville, Oklahoma (on our schedule), San Diego, UCF, Virginia (on our schedule).  This is still a poll; not the ranked formula.  Still no individual singles or doubles rankings as yet

 

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Nick Chappell just advanced to the semis in Cancun with a 2-6, 6-3, 3-0 (retired) W over Jean Thiriouin.  He started off slowly, but got going in the 2nd set and Thiriouin just gave up midway through the 3rd set.  Jerry Lopez has just started in another quarter against Dusty Boyer.  Both Nick and Jerry have found the formula for moving up in the rankings - go to Cancun - both are now ranked higher than Rybo although I think Alex could still beat both of them.

 

Joker beat Fed in Melbourne in the semis - he'll play the winner of Zverev v. Thiem in the finals for the title.

 

#16 Michigan is 4-1 on the season so far; they lost their opener 3-4 at home to NC State (also an ITA Kickoff upset winner), but they then beat Washington and Oregon on the road and then they won 2 close 4-3 matches over Tech and Mississippi at Champaign in the ITA Kickoff.  So they're undefeated on the road and winless at home so far.  Michigan is historically a strong Big10 team - with Illinois and occasionally Northwestern and Wisconsin, they have frequently challenged for the conference title (which Ohio State has owned for nearly two decades).  The match against TCU will actually be the first of a doubleheader for the Wolverines - they play us at 12:00 (noon) (EST) and will then face Western Michigan at 6:00 (EST).  The match will be indoors, which might be to our disadvantage.  The Wolverines are led by #85 Andrew Fenty and #94 Ondrej Styler (a freshman who got the clincher against the Rebels).  Other players are Mattias Siimar, Connor Johnston, Nick Beaty and Ryan Fu.  They are coached by Adam Steinberg.

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Gerardo Lopez Villasenor (or Jerry Lopez if you prefer English) lost in the quarters at Cancun 3 and 1 to Dusty Boyer, so he's out of this Cancun tourney.  But Nick is in the semis now and will have a chance for revenge.

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Nick Chappell lost in the semis at Cancun today to ex-Northwestern Wildcat Strong Kirchheimer 5-7, 3-6 so no titles for Frogs this week.  But a semis appearance will once again earn Nick beaucoup ATP points which will raise his ranking.

 

TCU is 4-1 all-time against the Wolverines, including the first match in 1977 and the most recent match in 2015.  One meeting was in the NCAA's in 2000 and our lone loss took place in 2013.  Rybo beat Andrew Fenty in the first round of last year's NCAA singles tourney 3 and 3 and Jerry Lopez and Reese Stalder beat Connor Johnston and Jathan Malik in the NCAA doubles tourney in 2017.  Cam Norrie committed to Michigan as a recruit but they fired their AD who fired the tennis coach (Bruce Berque, who is now Texas' coach after ex-TCU Coach Michael Center was fired last year after being convicted of bribery in the notorious college recruiting scandal).  After TCU (and Western Michigan in the doubleheader), Michigan will face Cornell and Columbia; after Michigan, the Frogs will travel to Virginia and then host North Carolina.

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