Bobby Knight is the founder of collegetennistoday.com, an American blog focused on providing US college updates to collegiate tennis fans and players alike. Knight has a unique knowledge of the collegiate game, and as such is able to provide his insight on the Brits currently studying across the pond. For those interested in following him on Twitter, you can find him @College10s2day.
The college tennis season is ready to begin: dual-matches are set to start any day, and everything over the next 4 months will build towards the NCAA Championships in Tulsa, Oklahoma in late May. The Intercollegiate Tennis Association (ITA) released its first team rankings on Tuesday and updated its preseason singles and doubles rankings, taking into account all the matches played during the fall at the numerous college tournaments throughout the United States.
For those not familiar with college tennis in the United States, the fall season is all about individual performance while the winter/spring season is all about the team. The teams play each other in a dual-match with each division using a different scoring format. I’d recommend reading this article from the SmartAthlete’s Dominic Tinodi if you aren’t familiar with the dual-match concept.
What I’m going to do is highlight some of the top Brits to watch in the coming weeks and months and also a few of the Brit-heavy teams that you can keep an eye on throughout the season. The number listed to the right of each person is their Universal Tennis Rating (as of 1/6/15) with UTR being a great way to compare players from different countries and divisions.
Brits Ranked in the ITA Mens’s Singles Top 125
#4 Cameron Norrie (TCU Soph 14.68) – The top Brit in terms of ranking is actually a New Zealand native but in 2013 he gained British citizenship so he could take advantage of the funding offered by the LTA which wasn’t available in New Zealand (details here). Norrie went 17-8 in dual-match play last season finding his groove at #3 singles where he went 8-0. This fall he won the inaugural Oracle/ITA Masters beating 3 top 15 players along the way. I’d expect the left-handed Norrie to play at either #1 or #2 singles this year for a TCU team that will be a national title contender.
#33 Alex Sendegeya (Texas Tech Soph 14.10) – The Liverpool native had a team best 19 dual-match wins last season winning 14 of those matches at #3 singles and the other 5 at #4 singles. Sendegeya went 10-2 this fall with wins over 4 ranked opponents with his best coming over #29 Shane Vinsant (Texas A&M). Sendegeya will likely play at #3 singles again this season though it’s possible he could get a few matches in at #2.
#34 Jordan Angus (San Diego Sr 14.01) – The senior from London went 22-4 last season with 20 of those wins coming at #3 singles. Angus went 11-3 this fall and beat 5 ranked players while making it to the semifinals at the Battle in the Bay Classic and Southwest Regional Championships. Angus and his doubles partner, Filip Vittek, went 10-3 this fall and won the doubles title at the Southwest Regional Championships. Angus will most likely be back at #3 singles though he could move up to #2 if Vittek struggles some.
#68 Julian Cash (Oklahoma State Soph 13.69) – The Brighton native played at Mississippi State last season going 10-7 in dual-match play while splitting time between #5 and #6 singles but he transferred to Oklahoma State for the start of the fall session. Cash went 8-3 this fall picking up 3 ranked wins and also made the singles finals at the Central Regional Championships. Cash and his doubles partner, Arjun Kadhe, won the doubles consolation draw at the ITA All-American Championships and also finished as the doubles runner-up at the Central Regional Championships. I could see Cash playing anywhere from #2 to #5 this coming season for the Cowboys.
#87 Andrew Watson (Memphis Soph – 13.78) – The Reigate native went 14-8 last season with most of those wins coming at #2 singles. Watson went 9-3 this fall and picked up 2 ranked wins including a 6-1, 6-0 win over #37 Quentin Monaghan (Notre Dame). Watson will probably play at both #1 and #2 this season for the Tigers.
#107 Max Andrews (Miami Jr – 13.46) – The Manchester native played at Rice last season going 13-8 in dual-match play with the wins spread out at #2, #3, and #4 singles. Andrews transferred to Miami (FL) during the summer and went 14-5 this fall with 3 ranked wins and a singles title at the Longwood Ranch Dick Vitale Intercollegiate Clay Court Classic. I would expect Andrews to play at either #2 or #3 singles this year for the Canes.
#111 Sebastian Rey (Tulane Jr – 13.67) – The Wantage native went 16-5 in dual-match play last season with those wins split between #3 and #4 singles. Rey went a stout 12-2 this fall and beat 2 ranked players along with winning the Rice Invitational while also making it to the semifinals at the Southern Regional Championships. Rey will likely play at #3 singles this coming season.
Brits Ranked in the ITA Doubles Top 60
#4 Jack Findel-Hawkins/Yannick Zuern (North Florida)
#7 Jordan Angus/Filip Vittek (San Diego)
#9 Julian Cash/Arjun Kadhe (Oklahoma State)
#11 Alex Gasson/Henry Craig (Denver)
#41 Jonny Rigby/Michal Kianicka (Southern Illinois)
#48 Sebastian Rey/Chi-Shan Jao (Tulane)
Division 1 Men To Watch:
Ryan Peniston (Memphis Soph – 13.89) – split time between #2 and #4 singles last year going 13-4 in dual-match play; went 7-3 this past fall with a ranked win over #103 Jonathan Ho (Wake Forest)
Samm Butler (SMU Soph – 13.83) – played mostly at #3 singles last year going 20-4 in dual-match play; went 4-3 in the fall with a win over #114 Michael Riechmann (Texas)
Ben Lott (Drake Sr – 13.41) – played mostly at #3 singles last year going 13-9 in dual-match play; went 4-3 this past fall with a ranked win over #95 Ruben Weber (Minnesota) and the preseason #11 Romain Bogaerts (Wake Forest)
Tommy Bennett (Rice Jr – 13.52) – sat out last season rehabbing an injury after playing at #1 singles the year prior going 8-6 in dual-match play; went 3-3 in the fall with a tight loss to #29 Shane Vinsant (Texas A&M) 7-5 in the 3rd
Thomas Colautti (Princeton Jr – 13.45) – played at #2 last season going 15-5 in dual-match play; went 8-4 this past fall including a ranked win over #56 Lucas Hejhal (St. Johns) en route to winning the Ivy Plus Invitational
Josef Dodridge (Wisconsin Soph – 13.31) – played mostly at #1 singles last year going 10-9 in dual-match play; went 6-5 this past fall with a ranked win over #102 TJ Pura (Duke).
Simon Pritchard (Kennesaw State Jr – 13.30) – played at #1 singles last year going 11-7 in dual-match play
Freshman to Watch:
Dan Little (Utah Fr – 12.82) – went 13-2 in the fall and won the Utah Invitational Tournament and made it to the finals of the Mountain Regional Championship
Vinny Gilespie (Drake Fr – 13.49) – went 4-2 in the fall and made the quarterfinals at the Central Regional Championship
Division 1 Men’s teams with at least 3 Brits on the roster:
7 – #35 Drake (Des Moines, IA) – Ben Lott (13.41), Vinny Gillespie (13.49), Ben Stride (12.86), Ben Clark (12.23), Ben Wood (11.14), Tom Hands (12.34), Calum Macgeoch (12.75) – Missouri Valley Conference (MVC) Champions
4 – Wisconsin-Green Bay (Green Bay, WI) – Howard Scott (12.76), Rowan Isaaks (12.23), Charlie Ridout (12.08), Miles McDowall (10.98) – Horizon League Champions
3 – Alabama State (Montgomery, AL) – Takura Mlambo (12.43), Ronald Mataba (11.37), Adam Coyne (11.34) – defending Southwestern Athletic Conference (SWAC) Champions
3 – Fairleigh Dickinson (Teaneck, NJ) – Jacob Whalley (12.08), Adam Chan (11.17), William Bourne (10.14) – Northeast Conference (NEC) Runner-Up
3 – Furman (Greenville, SC) – Jake Munns (12.64), Josh Pistorius (12.52), Stefan Rhodes (11.61) – Southern Conference Runner-Up
3 – Southern Illinois (Carbondale, IL) – Jonny Rigby (12.81), Thomas Kyle (11.48), Peter Molloy (11.29) – Missouri Valley Conference (MVC)
3 – #45 Memphis (Memphis, TN) – Andrew Watson (13.78), Ryan Peniston (13.89), Shakeel Manji (12.36)- American Athletic Conference (AAC)
Brits Ranked in the ITA Womens Singles Top 125
Brits Ranked in the ITA Doubles Top 60
#41 Daneika Borthwick/Yukako Noi (Florida State)
#53 Jennifer Brown/Kristina Vozniak (Mississippi State)
#58 Sophie Watts/Anneka Watts (Fresno State)
Division 1 Women To Watch:
Daneika Borthwick (Florida State Sr – 10.86) – has played at #1 singles for the last 3 years – went 15-8 last year in dual-match play
Sophie Watts (Fresno State Sr – 10.15) – has played at #1 singles for the last 2 years – went a perfect 21-0 last year in dual-match play
Elizabeth Thoms (University of Texas Arlington Sr – 10.22) – played at #1 last year going 15-2 in dual-match play
Sabrina Federici (Texas Tech Soph – 10.56) – played at #5 last year going 11-3 in dual-match play
Ella Taylor (LSU Sr – 10.47) – played mostly at #4 singles last season going 18-8 in dual-match play
Alicia Barnett (Northwestern Sr – 10.36) – played at #1 singles last year going 12-12 in dual-match play
Georgina Sellyn (Vanderbilt Jr – 9.93) – missed most of last season with an injury but played at #1 singles the year prior going 9-12 in dual-match play.
Brigit Folland (South Carolina Jr – 10.18) – played mostly at #3 singles last year going 10-13 in dual-match play
Jennifer Brown (Mississippi State Soph – 10.08) – played at #5 singles last year going 15-8 in dual-match play
Lolade Ogungbesan (Pittsburgh Jr – 9.99) – split time between #1 and #2 singles going 7-12 in dual-match play
Freshman to Watch:
Allanah Griffin (Auburn – 10.05) – had a 10-6 record during the fall including a ranked win over #86 Laura Valkova (South Alabama)
Emily Smith (Rice – 10.38) – had a 9-5 record during the fall including a ranked win over #94 Cassandra Vazquet (North Carolina)
Division 1 Women’s Teams with at least 3 Brits on the roster:
4 – #40 Long Beach State (Long Beach, CA) – Laura Eales (9.29), Georgie Sanders (8.55), Ella Monsey (8.52), Alexandra Jones (8.45) – Big West Conference Champions
4 – #54 Fresno State (Fresno, CA) – Sophie Watts (10.15), Emma Wilson (9.54), Anneka Watts (9.24), Olivia Noble (9.13) – Mountain West Conference
3 – North Carolina-Greensboro (Greensboro, NC) – Soumeya Anane (8.59), Amy Ellis (8.10), Corinne Blythe (8.08) – Southern Conference