By Bobby Knight, College Tennis Today
We are now officially in the home stretch of the 2017 regular season with only a few weeks remaining until conference tournaments get fired up. Everyone is trying to make that last minute push to improve their resumes for the NCAAs so let’s see who makes a leap forward this weekend.
It’s that time of the year where NorCal and SoCal collide with No. 5 USC heading north to meet No. 19 Stanford. USC comes into this one having won 11 of its last 12 and is coming off wins over No. 25 Oregon and No. 35 Washington. Stanford has won four in a row and six of its last seven and is coming off wins over Arizona and Utah. USC leads the all-time series 68-60 which includes a 4-3 win back in February in Los Angeles. USC has three ranked singles players with Brandon Holt the highest at No. 19 while Stanford has two ranked singles players with Tom Fawcett the highest at No. 17.
Virginia, ranked No. 4, hosts No. 11 North Carolina on Sunday afternoon in a battle between two teams that are both 5-1 in the ACC. Virginia suffered its first loss of the season last Friday at No. 1 Wake Forest but then rebounded on Sunday to blank Clemson. North Carolina is on a five-match winning streak and is coming off wins over Miami FL and No. 30 Florida State. Virginia and North Carolina both have three ranked singles starters with Virginia led by No. 12 Thai-Son Kwiatkowski while No. 23 Ronnie Schneider leads North Carolina. North Carolina leads the all-time series 69-36 however Virginia has won the last two including a 4-0 win earlier this year at the National Team Indoor Championships.
Third-ranked Baylor kicks off its Big 12 schedule this weekend with a top 10 showdown on Sunday against No. 8 Oklahoma State. Baylor has won six straight and 11 of its last 12 and is coming off a road win at Tulsa. Oklahoma State had its nine-match winning streak snapped by No. 9 TCU however the Cowboys came back on Sunday to defeat No. 6 Texas. Baylor and Oklahoma State are two of just seven schools that have four ranked singles players with Baylor led by No. 10 Juan Benitez while Oklahoma State is led by No. 27 Julian Cash. Baylor leads the all-time series 26-7 with the teams splitting matches last season with Oklahoma State winning in the regular season while Baylor won in the Big 12 Tournament.
Top 25 tilts in the SEC have become the norm this season with a staggering 12 of 14 schools ranked inside the top 25. One of the better ones this weekend takes place on Friday evening in Columbia as No. 13 South Carolina hosts No. 16 Mississippi State. South Carolina has won four of its last five and is coming off a win over No. 38 Alabama. Mississippi State has won two straight and five of its last six and is coming off wins over No. 21 LSU and No. 22 Texas A&M. South Carolina leads the all-time series 27-2 though the schools have split the last two meetings with South Carolina winning in Starkville last season while Mississippi State won in Columbia the year prior.
Another matchup in the SEC to keep an eye on is the one in Fayetteville on Friday night between No. 2 Georgia and No. 19 Arkansas. Georgia is tied for first-place in the conference with an 8-1 record and has won seven straight after defeating No. 24 Tennessee last weekend. Arkansas is 4-5 in the SEC and has lost four straight however all four were close losses. Arkansas is 5-2 at home against ranked opponents and two weeks ago it came within an eyelash of upsetting No. 1 Florida. Georgia has won 10 straight over Arkansas and leads the all-time series 28-3 with the Razorbacks last winning in 2008.
The only top 25 matchup of the week in the Big 12 takes place on Sunday in Stillwater as No. 9 Oklahoma State hosts No. 23 Kansas. Oklahoma State has won seven of its last eight and is coming off a road win over No. 30 TCU. Kansas has won four straight and seven of nine and is coming off wins over Iowa State and West Virginia. Oklahoma State has five ranked singles starters and is led by No. 7 Viktoriya Lushkova while Kansas is led by its lone ranked player No. 81 Anastasia Rychagova. Oklahoma State has won the last eight meetings and leads the all-time series 30-16 with Kansas’s last win coming in 2009.
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.
Men’s Live Scoring/Updates:
No. 5 USC at No. 19 Stanford – Friday 12 p.m. PST
Live Scoring/Broadcast: http://streamingtennis.com/Cardinal/
No. 11 North Carolina at No. 4 Virginia – Sunday 1 p.m. EST
Live Scoring/Video: http://www.virginiasports.com/sports/m-tennis/spec-rel/va-m-tennis-live-stats.html
No. 8 Oklahoma State at No. 3 Baylor – Sunday 2 p.m. CST
Live Scoring/Video/Blog: http://www.baylorbears.com/sports/m-tennis/live-stats.html
Women’s Live Scoring/Updates:
No. 16 Mississippi State at No. 13 South Carolina – Friday 5 p.m. EST
Live Scoring: http://stats.statbroadcast.com/broadcast/?id=157683
No. 2 Georgia at No. 19 Arkansas – Friday 6 p.m. CST
Live Scoring: http://www.statbroadcast.com/events/statmonitr.php?gid=ark
No. 23 Kansas at No. 9 Oklahoma State – Sunday 1 p.m. CST
Live Scoring: http://www.statbroadcast.com/events/statmonitr.php?gid=okst