MOBILE, Ala. - After the last several years have provided a fair amount of upsets on the first day of the USTA/ITA National Small College Championships, the NCAA Division III women's singles and NAIA men's doubles turned in the only real surprises of opening round play.
The 2010 USTA/ITA National Small College Championships and the USTA/ITA National Collegiate Wheelchair Tennis Championships are taking place October 14-17 and October 15-17, respectively, hosted by the Copeland-Cox Tennis Center in Mobile, Alabama, the world's largest public tennis facility, for the fourth consecutive year.
For the second straight year, the NCAA Division III play remained the most competitive and provided the only real surprises of the tournament thus far, accounting for half of the singles upsets on the day. An astounding 28 of the 32 seeded singles players advanced to tomorrow's semifinals.
In 2009, four NCAA Division III Champions were knocked off in the opening round of play including the Michael Greenberg of Kenyon, Lorne McManigle of Emory and Kendra Higgins and Chrissy Hu of Chicago University. All but Greenberg have returned to Mobile in hopes of making up for last year's disappointing starts.
Even though the two-time defending NCAA DivisionIII doubles title holders team of Higgins and Hu were able to get back on track with a straight set victory, Higgins, who was selected as an At-Large, was on the opposite end of a disastrous 6-0, 6-0 defeat to super frosh Kristin Lim of Claremont-Mudd-Scripps. Lim lost only one set en route to the USTA/ITA West Regional singles title, where she toppled last year's Division III National Small College Singles Champion, Liz Lewis from Chapman.
Second-ranked Higgins would not be the only top-notch player from the University of Chicago to be upset on day one as No. 13 Jennifer Kung, who upended Higgins in the USTA/ITA Central Regional Championship was perhaps overlooking her unranked opponent in Karisse Bendijo of TCNJ, who was able to easily advance past Kung, who made her second National Small College appearance in the past three years.
The Emory women's team once again suffered a tough loss in singles in the opening round as second-seeded Zahra Dawson was stunned by Samantha Frank, an unranked senior from Gustavus Adolphus College. Dawson's doubles teammate, Lorne McManigle, the 2009 NCAA Division III Singles Champion suffered an early defeat last year at the National Small College Championships.
The only divisions to have all seeded players remain unscathed in both men's and women's singles was NCAA Division II and NAIA.
Doubles play was no different than singles with even fewer seeds stumbling out of the gates. Incredibly, 30 of the 32 seeded doubles teams picked up a round one win, with the NAIA men's draw as the only draw to experience an upset, in which case they had two as the second-seeded Fresno Pacific team and No. 3 Oklahoma Christian duo met their match in Olivet Nazarene and Campbellsville, respectively.
In fact, of all 32 first round doubles matches, only one was decided by a third-set tiebreak with every other match resulting in straight-set victories.
Today's format consisted of one round of singles play for both men and women while the men played two rounds of doubles, with the women only playing one.
Play resumes Friday with women's singles at 8:30 am CDT and men's singles at 10:30 am CDT. The singles matches will be followed by two rounds of women's doubles and one final round of men's doubles. The third annual USTA/ITA National Collegiate Wheelchair Championships begin tournament play tomorrow afternoon starting at 3:00 pm CDT.
Each small college division (NCAA Divisions II and III, NAIA and Junior/Community College) features eight singles players and eight doubles teams who earned spots into this national event by winning their respective USTA/ITA Regional Championships held over the past three weeks throughout the country.Over 8,000 student-athletes from NCAA Division I, II, III, NAIA, Junior and Community Colleges compete in the USTA/ITA Regional Championships held at 85 different college campuses across the country.
The USTA/ITA National Small College Championship, which dates back to 1986, is the only national championship event for singles and doubles at the NCAA Division II and NAIA levels. It is also the only tournament that combines all levels of Junior/Community College (NJCAA Divisions I and III and the California division). The singles and doubles champions at each divisional level will then compete to become the overall "Super Bowl" champions. The "Super Bowl" champions earn wild cards into the USTA/ITA National Intercollegiate Indoor Championships with the opportunity to win the culminating event held at the USTA-Billie Jean King National Tennis Center.
The most unique element of the USTA/ITA Intercollegiate Championships program is the fact that all levels of varsity college tennis (NCAA Divisions I, II and III, NAIA and Junior/Community College) are competing in one comprehensive event, and any ITA varsity student-athlete has the opportunity to play and win at the prestigious USTA-Billie Jean King National Tennis Center.
For complete results and event information, visit www.itatennis.com.