PACIFIC PALISADES, Calif. - With only one seeded player failing to advance out of the first round of singles at the 2010 Riviera/ITA All-American Championships, the nation's top-ranked players showed why they are among college tennis' elite heading into today's second-round and quarterfinal action.
With No. 4-ranked Lauren Embree sidelined for the ITA's first national championships of the year, Florida looked to their other super sophomore, Allie Will, the nation's 5th-ranked player to make a strong showing for the Gators, which reached the NCAA Finals last year. However, the teams' misfortunes continued as Will was the only seeded player to fall on day one with a tough 4-6, 6-4, 7-5 loss to conference rival Kristi Boxx of Ole Miss.
Through the past four days of qualifying play, rain and injuries have caused several headaches for many of the nation's top ranked women players opening the door for players such as Tennessee's Rosalila Alda, who carries a ranking of 119 in the Campbell/ITA College Tennis Rankings. However, this also made for some quick matches as 12 of the 16 matches resulted in straight set victories.
Of the 16 second round qualifiers, eight participants hail from four teams, three of which reside in the ultra-competitive Pac-10 Conference.
Headlining the field is Jana Juricova of the University of California-Berkeley. Juricova became Cal's first ITA National Indoor Champion, knocking off Campbell/ITA Player of the Year, Irina Falconi in last year's final.
Ending the year ranked No. 2 in the Campbell/ITA College Tennis Rankings, the junior also finished Runner-Up in the NCAA Women's Singles Championship. The Bears heavy hitter dropped the title tilt to Georgia's Chelsey Gullickson, after winning 19 consecutive matches en rout to a 44-7 record in singles and 23-3 mark in duals with current partner Mari Andersson, who shared the NCAA Doubles title together in 2009.
Both women have carried their strong play into the 2010 All-American Championships, advancing to the next round in both singles and doubles, with Juricova widely considered the favorite in both draws as she tries to accomplish what Tennessee's John-Patrick Smith accomplished in last year's D'Novo/ITA All-American Championships, the men's tournament counterpart, which is also currently taking place in Tulsa, Oklahoma.
Jana's biggest roadblock may very well be conference foe, Hilary Barte of Stanford, the No. 2 seed in singles and No. 3 seed in doubles with Mallory Burdette, the sister of her former doubles partner, Lindsey, who graduated after last season. Both players advanced to the next round in both singles and doubles.
The third Pac-10 team with at least two players featured in the Round of 16 may be the most talented 1-2 punch in the country. Washington's Denise Dy and Venise Chan are both ranked in the top 10 in the Campbell/ITA Preseason Rankings and are both seeded at the All-American Championships. With both players separated on separate sides of the draw and no potential matchups versus fellow seeded players until the semifinals, the two have a chance to possibly meet up in the tournament finals.
The 2009 NCAA Champion Duke Blue Devils also have two contestants remaining in the draw with seniors Reka Zsilinszka and Ellah Nze both recording straight set wins yesterday. The Duke pair of Nze and Nadine Fahoum also advanced to the next round, setting up a matchup against the second-seed pair of Alexa Guarachi and Courtney McLane from Alabama.
Singles semifinals will be played on Saturday, Oct. 9, with the championship match set for Sunday, Oct. 10.
The tournament, hosted by the Riviera Tennis Club in Pacific Palisades, Calif. for the 25thconsecutive year kicked off on Saturday, October 3 with six rounds of prequalifying and qualifying singles and doubles leading up to today's main draw competition.
For complete results and event information, visit www.itatennis.com.