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What To Watch – February 3-5

The 2017 ITA Kick-Off Weekend is in the books, but that doesn’t mean the great matches are going away. There is a loaded weekend of college tennis action ahead of us with several top 10 teams butting heads.

Women’s Tennis
Texas Tech (2-0), ranked No. 12, heads to Orlando to face No. 2 North Carolina (4-0) in what will be the second USTA College MatchDay event of the year. Texas Tech opened up its season during the Kick-Off Weekend with wins over UC Santa Barbara and Arizona State, with the ASU match coming down to a third at No. 6 singles. North Carolina has started off its year with four shutout wins with the last two coming over Oregon and No. 18 Texas. This will be the first meeting between these teams since North Carolina won 5-2 back in March 2013.

Top-ranked Florida (2-0) travels to the west coast this weekend for a big showdown against third-ranked Pepperdine (2-0). The Gators opened up their 2017 season with wins over DePaul and Florida International while the Waves posted back-to-back shutouts over UNLV and North Carolina State. Florida has five players in the top 40 of the latest Oracle/ITA singles rankings while Pepperdine has three in the top 22. This will be the eighth all-time meeting between Florida and Pepperdine but only the second meeting since 1998. Florida leads the series 7-0 and they won the last meeting in 2012 by a 7-0 score.

Nashville will be one of the hot spots on Super Bowl Sunday when ninth-ranked Vanderbilt (2-0) hosts seventh-ranked Ohio State (4-0) in a Top 10 tilt. Vanderbilt is fresh off a weekend sweep of Virginia Tech and Kansas while Ohio State is coming off a pair of shutouts over Florida State and Alabama. These teams met twice last season in a one-week span with Ohio State winning both by the same 4-2 score.

Men’s Tennis

Top-ranked and two-time defending NCAA Champion Virginia hits the road to start its season and after opening up at Vanderbilt on Friday it’ll take on No. 15 Kentucky (5-1) on Saturday. Virginia returns five of six singles starters from last year’s team and also welcomes in Carl Soderlund who was the top-ranked men’s player in the Oracle/ITA National Freshmen/Newcomer Rankings. Kentucky opened up its season by winning its first five matches but will enter this one coming off a tough loss to Oklahoma State. Kentucky is 2-0 this year against ACC competition after defeating both Duke and Notre Dame. The will be the second year in a row that Virginia will face Kentucky in its season opener after the Cavaliers won last year’s meeting 6-1.

Florida (4-0), ranked No. 11, hosts No. 5 Georgia (3-0), No. 6 UCLA (4-0), and No. 8 USC (5-0) for the fourth-annual Pac-12/SEC Showdown.  All four teams won their respective Kick-Off Weekend regionals with Georgia being the only one of the four that didn’t play its matches outdoors. Florida will play USC on Saturday and UCLA on Sunday while Georgia plays UCLA on Saturday and USC on Sunday. The Pac-12 has had the upper hand at this event with USC (5-0) and UCLA (3-2) combing to go 8-2 while Florida (1-4) and Georgia (1-4) are a combined 2-8.  

Seventh-ranked North Carolina (7-0) will travel to Champaign-Urbana this weekend to face No. 17 Illinois (1-1).  The Tar Heels are coming off wins over Notre Dame and Vanderbilt while the Illini split matches last weekend with a win over Arkansas and a loss to Oklahoma. This will be the fifth meeting between these two over the last four years with North Carolina winning four of those including last year’s meeting at home 4-0. The last time they played in Champaign-Urbana it was Illinois coming out on top in a 4-3 thriller in a match that came down to a third set tiebreak at No. 1 singles.

Women’s Live Scoring/Updates:
#2 North Carolina vs. #12 Texas Tech (Friday 6 p.m. ET)

ESPN3 Broadcast - http://www.espn.com/watchespn/index/_/id/2987995/north-carolina-vs-texas-tech

#1 Florida at #3 Pepperdine (Saturday - 12 p.m. PT)
Live Scoring - http://www.pepperdinewaves.com/livestats/w-tennis/xlive.htm

#7 Ohio State at #9 Vanderbilt (Sunday 1 p.m. CT)
Live Scoring - http://www.vucommodores.com/livestats/w-tennis/xlive.htm

Men’s Live Scoring/Updates
#1 Virginia at #15 Kentucky (Saturday 5 p.m. ET) 

Live Scoring - https://s3.amazonaws.com/wayback/ftp-conf.silverchalice.co/stat-crew/KTY/m-tennis/xlive.htm

Pac-12/SEC Challenge:
#6 UCLA vs. #5 Georgia (Saturday 10 a.m. ET)
#8 USC at #11 Florida (Saturday 1:30 p.m. ET)
#8 USC vs. #5 Georgia (Sunday 10 a.m. ET)
#6 UCLA at #11 Florida (Sunday 1:30 p.m. ET)
Live Scoring/Video - http://floridagators.com/sports/2017/1/20/tennis-live-video-stats.aspx?path=tennis-men

#7 North Carolina at #17 Illinois (Saturday 7 p.m. ET)
Live Scoring/Video - http://www.fightingillini.com/sports/2016/1/14/mtennis_livestatsvideo.aspx?path=mten

Make sure you follow each of these matches at the provided live scoring links and follow me on Twitter for updates throughout the weekend.

If you want to read my thoughts and predictions on this weekends action you can head over to my site College Tennis Today.