With the 2023 Fall college tennis season now behind us, let’s take a look at some of the standouts from these past few months who took home National Championships and who beat many of the nation’s top players to rise up the rankings.
Below are the top five ranked singles players in the Nov. 15 ITA Tennis-Point Collegiate Tennis Rankings, and you can find out more about each of their fall seasons by scrolling down the page.
1.) Eliot Spizzirri | Senior | Texas | 3.02 WTN
The reigning ITA National Player of the Year showed no signs of slowing down in the fall of his senior season as the Texas senior, Eliot Spizzirri, successfully defended his preseason No. 1 ranking throughout the fall as he will enter the 2024 college tennis dual-match season as the top-ranked player in the nation.
After utilizing the summer months to take advantage of the newly formed ITA/ATP Accelerator Programme, Spizzirri elected to return to the Texas team for his senior season where the expectations and hopes for the Longhorn team have never been higher.
This fall, Spizzirri added to his impressive list of accolades, which already included the likes of being the Big 12 Player of the Year, NCAA Singles Quarterfinalist, and NCAA Doubles Finalist during his impressive spring in 2023 where he finished as the No. 1 ranked singles player and No. 2 ranked doubles player in the nation.
Entering the ITA All-American Championships as the No. 1 seeded singles player, Spizzirri knew he had a big target on his back returning to the college game, but did nothing but elevate his game under the pressure going a perfect 6-0 in the singles draw of the championship.
Picking up four ranked wins during his time in Tulsa, Spizzirri held off the likes of Michael Zheng (Columbia), Ozan Baris (Michigan State), and Murphy Cassone (Arizona State) en route to the title.
With the All-American Championship, Spizzirri became just the third player in Texas program history to take home this honor, while the win also marked the first national individual championship for Spizzirri over his collegiate career.
2.) Micah Braswell | Senior | Texas | 3.28 WTN
It’s another Longhorn coming in at No. 2 in the ITA National Singles Rankings after the Longhorns swept both individual national championships this fall.
As someone who has been a frequent figure in the ITA Rankings throughout his career, fellow Texas senior Micah Braswell took his biggest strides to date these past few months, climbing up to the No. 2 Singles Ranking after claiming the ITA Texas Regional Singles Championship as well as the ITA National Fall Championship Singles Title.
Beginning at the ITA All-American Championships, Braswell reached the Round of 16, taking down Samuel Sippel (Boise State) and Oliver Tarvet (San Diego) before falling to preseason No. 2 Chris Rodesch (Virginia) in a close three-set affair.
At the ITA Texas Regional Championships, Braswell blew through the competition, only dropping one set while going 6-0 with three wins over ranked competition. This regional championship secured Braswell’s spot into the National Fall Championships where he continued to shine.
In San Diego, Braswell would not drop a single set over his five matches and dominated many of the nation’s top players to make it a clean sweep for Texas in individual championships this fall. To claim the title, Braswell had to take down the likes of Quinn Vandecasteele (Oregon), JJ Tracy (Ohio State), and Jack Pinnington Jones (TCU), two of whom rank within the top five of today’s singles rankings.
Across the entire fall, Braswell finished with an impressive 14-2 singles record, including an impressive 8-1 mark against ranked opponents as well as a perfect 11-0 record to close out the fall.
3.) Jack Pinnington Jones | Sophomore | TCU | 3.27 WTN
For TCU sophomore Jack Pinnington Jones, this fall marked the culmination of a lot of hard work after an up-and-down freshman campaign in 2022-23 for one of the top-ranked juniors in the world.
After going 17-7 in dual matches last spring, this fall presented Pinnington Jones with his first opportunity to play as an individual in college tennis, as the former British junior No. 1 continues to adapt to the college game.
Receiving one of just two wild cards into the ITA National Fall Championships, Pinnington Jones made the most of his opportunity, reaching the finals of the singles draw while beating many of the nation’s top players.
Earning four ranked wins during his time in San Diego, Pinnington Jones shined in matches against the likes of Filippo Moroni (Wake Forest), Alexander Bernard (Ohio State), and Pablo Masjuan (UC Santa Barbara) to reach the finals.
In the finals, Pinnington Jones would face Micah Braswell (Texas) who was a familiar foe, having played several times last spring.
In a back-and-forth match, Pinnington Jones would come up just short of the championship, but his constant improvement and steadiness under pressure should have TCU fans everywhere excited for the spring season.
By reaching the ITA National Fall Championship Final, Pinnington Jones became the first Horned Frog to reach an individual championship final in 41 years (David Pate, 1982).
4.) JJ Tracy | Senior | Ohio State | 3.33 WTN
Coming off of a season in which he reached new heights in many areas of his game, Ohio State senior JJ Tracy, showed no signs of slowing down this fall, compiling many great results across national tournaments this fall.
Starting with the ITA All-American Championships, where he was the Consolation Champion in 2022, Tracy picked up an opening-round win over Colton Smith (Arizona) before falling to Gavin Young (Michigan) in the second-round.
Not letting this result determine his fall, Tracy bounced right back at the ITA Midwest Championships, going 6-0 to claim the regional title and a spot into the ITA National Fall Championships. At the regional, Tracy beat many ranked players including three teammates in Robert Cash, Jack Anthrop, and Alexander Bernard in the quarterfinals, semifinals, and finals.
Tracy would reach the semifinals at the ITA National Fall Championships before falling to the eventual champion, Micah Braswell. This run included wins over Pau Fanlo (Memphis), Alejandro Garcia (Oklahoma State), and Radu Papoe (Cornell).
The Buckeye would finish the fall with a 10-2 record, which was the second-most wins by an Ohio State player this fall.
5.) Colton Smith | Junior | Arizona | 3.53 WTN
For Arizona junior Colton Smith, this fall has been a continuation of the constant improvement shown by the Washington native throughout his time with the Wildcats. Entering college as a blue chip recruit, Smith has done nothing but impress over his first two seasons with Arizona, leading the team in singles wins each of the past two seasons.
After earning All-Pac-12 First Team honors last season, Smith entered the 2023-24 season ranked No. 23 in the ITA Preseason Singles Rankings with hopes to continue to showcase his talents this fall.
Beginning at the ITA All-American Championships, Smith lost a close 3-6, 6-7(5), 6-3 opening match to JJ Tracy (Ohio State) who came in ranked No. 4 in today’s rankings. Moving into the consolation draw, Smith would cruise through the competition, winning five more matches, including four ranked wins, to be crowned the ITA All-American Consolation Singles Champion.
Then at the ITA Southwest Regionals, Smith would continue his winning ways, winning the ITA Southwest Regional Singles Title, without dropping a set, qualifying him for the 2023 ITA National Fall Championships.
At the National Fall Championships, Smith dropped his opening round match to eventual quarterfinalist Pedro Vives (TCU), before making another deep run in the consolation singles draw. Reaching the consolation semifinals, Smith defeated Dhakshineswar Suresh (Wake Forest) and Quinn Vandecasteele (Oregon) before falling to finalist Leo Raquin (Middle Tennessee) in the semifinals.
Today’s No. 5 ranking is a new career high for Smith, as he looks to bring the Wildcats to new heights in 2024 when the dual-match season begins.