ITA College Tennis October Notebook

Isabella Dunlap (Central OklahomaWeb)
Central Oklahoma sophomore Isabella Dunlap. (Photo courtesy of Central Oklahoma Athletics)

Editor’s Note: Today, the Intercollegiate Tennis Association (ITA) Debuts a monthly notebook that will provide notes on all five collegiate divisions (NCAA DI, DII, DIII, NAIA and Junior College). The notebook is written by Steve Pratt, an editorial contributor to the ITA). If you have items that you would like considered for inclusion in the notebook, please submit them to Al Barba, ITA Director of Communications, Marketing and Advanced Media, at [email protected].

NCAA Division I
The main draws have been set and play has begun at the 2019 Saint Francis Health System ITA All-American Championships where the men are joined by the women for the first time in Tulsa, Okla. Matches will take place at the Michael D. Case Tennis Center, as well as the Case Tennis Center at LaFortune Park. The finals will air live on ESPNU at 6 and 8 p.m. (CT) on Sunday

Christian Sigsgaard of Texas is the top-seeded men’s player and will face qualifier Siphosothando Montsi of Illinois in the first round on Wednesday. Sigsgaard won the All-American consolation singles title in 2018. Qualifier Aditya Vashistha of St. John’s drew No. 2-seed Oliver Crawford of Florida.

In the women’s main draw, 2019 NCAA Singles Champion Estela Perez-Somarriba of Miami will take on Katarina Kzarov of Furman. Makenna Jones from North Carolina is No. 2 and faces Chiara Toomasetti of Northern Arizona.

Doubles play also begins on Wednesday with Juan Carlos Aguilar and Barnaby Smith of Texas A&M top-seeded. On the women’s side, Anna Rogers and Alana Smith of North Carolina State hold down the top spot.

SOCAL PLAYERS ARE MASTERS WINNERS: For the third year in a row a USC men’s player won the Oracle ITA Masters singles title as USC junior and No. 2 seeded Daniel Cukierman needed three sets to take out top-seeded Keegan Smith of UCLA at the Malibu Racquet Club. Cukierman’s 2019 singles title follows Laurens Verboven’s 2018 crown and Brandon Holt’s 2017 title won out at the Oracle ITA Masters.

Pepperdine’s 19-year-old senior Ashley Lahey, the 14th-ranked player in the ITA preseason national rankings, defeated two national top 10 players and a top five freshman en route to the singles title. Lahey dropped just three games in the final against UCLA redshirt senior Jada Hart.

SNEAK PEEK AHEAD: The ITA Cup will take place at Berry College in Rome, Ga., Oct. 17-20 followed by the Oracle ITA National Fall Championships Nov. 6-10 in Newport Beach. All five college divisions will compete at the Fall Nationals.

FAMILIAR RING: Reigning NCAA singles champion Paul Jubb has made a return to campus, but is not enrolled during the Fall semester at the University of South Carolina. Jubb is focusing on professional events in England and will return to Columbia in January to begin defense of his national title. Hosting the nation’s No. 1 football team, the Alabama Crimson Tide on Sept. 14, the Gamecocks took time out to honor Jubb, who was introduced during halftime and presented with his NCAA championship ring.

Here is the Twitter link to Jubb receiving his NCAA championship ring:

REGIONAL SITES AND DATES: The following is a list of Regional sites and dates:

Division I Men – 2019
Northwest – Stanford, Oct. 25-29
Southwest – Pepperdine, Oct. 17-20
Mountain – Denver, Oct. 16-20
Texas – Baylor, Oct. 25-28
Central – Oklahoma, Oct. 24-28
Midwest – Ohio State, Oct. 17-21
Northeast – Penn, Oct. 17-22
Ohio Valley – Vanderbilt, Oct. 24-29
Atlantic – Virginia, Oct. 17-22
Carolina – Duke, Oct. 18-22
Southern – Auburn, Oct. 17-22
Southeast – Florida, Oct. 24-27

Division I Women – 2019
Northwest – Stanford, Oct. 18-22
Southwest – San Diego, Oct. 24-28
Mountain – UNLV, Oct. 23-27
Texas – Baylor, Oct. 17-21
Central – Oklahoma, Oct. 17-22
Midwest – Michigan State, Oct. 16-22
Northeast – Army, Oct. 17-22
Ohio Valley – Middle Tennessee State, Oct. 17-22
Atlantic – Virginia Tech, Oct. 25-29
Carolina – Wake Forest, Oct. 24-28
Southern – LSU, Oct. 17-22
Southeast – Florida State, Oct. 18-21

NCAA Division II
BARRY PLAYERS HEADED TO BERRY: Defending national women’s and men’s national champions from Barry University had singles wins on both sides and saw players capture ITA regional titles. Jil Engelmann and Alejandro Ibañez Gallego qualified for the ITA Cup (Oct. 17-20) at the Rome Tennis Center at Berry College in Rome, Ga.

TAKING OKLAHOMA BY STORM: University of Central Oklahoma’s Isabella Dunlap, last season’s ITA Rookie of the Year, returns for her second season and is hoping she can get off to a fast start just like last season’s sensational fall. After winning the ITA regional in 2018, Dunlap went on to make a finals run at the ITA National Championships. She entered the spring ranked No. 2 in the country and maintained a top-five spot all season, earning All-American honors in both singles and doubles, where she finished No. 5 in singles and No. 9 in doubles with Paola Landin. She became just the third Broncho in school history to garner All-American honors in both singles and doubles in the same season and the first since 1998. Dunlap’s mother Diane and four brothers all attended Central Oklahoma. In its vast Athletics Hall of Fame, Central Oklahoma has just one women’s tennis player ever named a Hall of Famer: Jenny Bautista, who was inducted in 2007.

MORE PANCAKES PLEASE: Find out more about the Buenos Aires, Argentina, native and the 2019 year-end No. 1 ranked player in the Division II women’s poll Berta Bonardi, a junior from the University of West Florida, in this 60-second video put out by the Pensacola university. Bonardi talks about her toughest transition in coming to America and her favorite foods.  Watch it here:

NCAA Division III
KEEPING CARLTON TENNIS ON THE MAP: Leo Vithoontien of Carleton College in Northfield, Minn., defeated Indraneel Raut of Gustavus Adolphus College 6-2, 6-1, to capture the ITA Midwest Regional Singles Championship.

Last season, the junior Vithoontien from Bangkok, Thailand, was unseeded in the 32-player NCAA Division III Singles Championship and advanced all the way to the final before Jonathan Jemison of Emory University finally got the best him in a three-set final. Vithoontien became the first Carleton player to play in the title match at the NCAA Singles Championship, and ended the year 27-3, the most wins in Carleton tennis history.

Michael O’Neil and Daniel Fouchier of Gustavus defeated Cole Schneider and Nyathi Motlojoa of Luther to win the ITA Midwest Regional Doubles Championship.

CHAMP BACK FOR MORE: Emory University’s Ysabel Gonzalez-Rico will likely start the year among the top-ranked players as the Pinecrest, Fla., returns for her junior season. As a sophomore, Gonzalez-Rico posted an impressive 34-5 overall record, tying for the program’s single-season record for victories. She went 22-1 during the spring, including a perfect 19-0 record against Division III competition and dropped just six sets total. By defeating Venia Yeung from Wesleyan University in the NCAA Division III singles final, Gonzalez-Rico marked just the fifth time in NCAA DIII history that the men’s and women’s singles champ had come from the same school (Jonathan Jemison won the men’s title).

WILLING AND ABLE: Georgia Gwinnett senior Emerald Able is looking to cap her outstanding career with a fourth NAIA team national champion as she helped lead her team to titles from 2017-19. An NAIA First-Team All-American the past two seasons, Able is from Memphis, Tenn. Her father Emerson played college football at the University of Tennessee at Martin and her cousin Maurice Hall played his college football at Ohio State University.

WORTHY OPPOSITION: Able balanced her junior dual-match season staying busy playing ITF World Tour Futures events in 2019, entering a total of 12 so far this year. One was particularly memorable, but not for the result but for who was on the other side of the net. Able drew top-ranked US junior Coco Gauff. In April in the first round of qualifying at the $100,000 pro event in Charleston, S.C., Able fell to the 15-year-old phenom Gauff and captured one game. A few months later, Gauff shocked the tennis world by defeating Venus Williams on Centre Court at Wimbledon.

GIVEN A CHANCE: Coming out of the juniors, Christian Garay was a special talent with Division I coaches lining up for the chance to sign the German-born Puerto Rican player. Garay had plans to play at either Auburn or Georgia but never became eligible because of eligibility issues.

Now 23, Garay finished her freshman season ranked No. 5 in singles for Point University in West Point, Ga. “It’s pretty unbelievable,” Garay told “I really got lucky. Somebody reached out to me and helped me and showed me the way. Some people don’t have that, so I am very grateful.”

Once a top three-ranked national junior, Garay has three years of eligibility remaining. He played Davis Cup for Puerto Rico from 2013-15, and holds significant junior wins over players who have reached career high rankings in the top 500 on the ATP World tour, including Jared Donaldson (48 ATP), Tommy Paul (79 ATP), Stefan Kozlov (116 ATP), and Lucas Gomez (463 ATP).

MOVING ON: The 2019 year-end NJCAA men’s and women’s top-ranked players from Tyler Junior College have found new homes this fall to continue their college tennis careers. Marcus Walters, originally from Nottingham, United Kingdom, is currently playing for Division I Florida State. Maria Genovese chose NAIA No. 1-ranked Georgia Gwinnett and has wasted little time producing some solid results.

Walters pulled off a rare triple crown last season ending the year atop the rankings in team, singles and doubles (with partner Alex Parker). Walters was a part of the 2018 Junior College National Championship team as well. He was named the Junior College ITA Rookie of the Year and was selected to the ITA College All-Star Team in 2018.

Genovese was top-seeded in the NAIA South Regional to start the fall season and advanced to the final against No. 3-seed Elyse Lavender of Brenau University. Lavender, a transfer from LSU, beat defending South Regional champion Madeline Bosnjak of Georgia Gwinnett in the semifinals. One year ago, Genovese swept the 2018 ITA Cup for NJCAA school Tyler with an 8-0 run during the four-day event. She took home the ITA Cup Junior College Women’s Singles National title along with the Junior College Women’s Doubles championship (with Anna Brogan).

TYLER, TYLER, TYLER: Community college tennis fans are used to hearing the name and that isn’t expected to change again this season as it relates to the men’s and women’s tennis teams. The Apache men have won two straight national championships and the national tournament will be held in Tyler on May 11-15, 2020. The Apache Ladies tied for second last year after winning two consecutive national crowns. The women’s national tournament is scheduled for May 3-8 in Tucson, Ariz.

Tyler hosted the recent ITA Southwest Fall Regional Tournament and again dominated the event as all singles and doubles finals were TJC vs. TJC. In both the men’s singles and doubles semifinals, Apaches were in six of the eight slots. As for the women they were even better, taking up all eight semifinal spots.

REACHING FOR NO. 1: With Walters moving on, ASA Miami sophomore Toru Horie of Tokyo, Japan, has a shot at reaching the top spot when the fall rankings are released on Nov. 21 after finishing No. 2 last year. In the 2017 US Open Junior doubles final, Horie and Yuta Shimizu fell 11-9 in the final. In a 2017 ITF Challenger in Kyoto, Japan, Horie lost to former NCAA singles and doubles champion Blaz Rola (Ohio State), 6-4, 6-3. Horie has more than 3,200 followers on Twitter and you can follow him @tennis_toru.

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