It’s one of the best weekends in college tennis: the ITA Kick-Off Weekend. The premise of the weekend is there are 15 pools of 4 for both the men and the women. The winner of the pools receive a bid to the ITA National Indoor Championships in Seattle, Washington. The top 15 ranked teams get to be host sites and #1 seeds. For the women, they get an interesting draw being sent to Columbia, South Carolina to be in the Gamecocks Women’s pool as the #2 seed. Your defending national champions on the men’s side? Of course they’re hosting. Lets dive in!
The women are coming off a weekend that was nothing short than dominating, sweeping both College of Charleston and Liberty 7-0. This weekend will definitely be a step up but I have all the faith in the world in this team. I’ve been yelling into the void for months that if healthy, this Wake Forest women’s team is at least a top 15 team in the nation. Senior Emma Davis at the top is ranked #44 in the nation. She finished 25th in singles and 15th in doubles with Chandler Carter. From there down, there’s not that big of a drop off. Returning players such as Anna Ulyashchenko, Carter, and Alexis Franco will play important roles on in the singles lineup along with Mary Caroline Meredith being a doubles staple. On the other hand we will see some major impact from some freshmen. Peyton Pesavento has a fantastic doubles background and is ranked in singles currently. Saby Nihilani, your resident freshman counterpuncher, can play at an extremely high level and Anna Brylin has seen her self in the starting lineup already. Essentially this team has pieces that they can move around when needed and still be comfortable winning at every spot. If they win against Arizona state, they play the winner of South Carolina(who just got back from Australia) and California tomorrow afternoon.
You can catch their first round match HERE at 2 pm!
With the men, well the story is no different then it’s been the last two years. They’ve been good. As the defending national champions, they are the #1 seed and coming to Winston-Salem will be Memphis, Old Dominion, and BYU. Wake had a slight scare against Arizona State losing the doubles point, but very quickly righted the ship. There are 3 things to be looking out for this weekend: 1) Borna Gojo. He was held out last weekend due to a minor injury, and while i’m confident this team would be more than fine this weekend without him, I’d rather have everyone in the lineup. 2) how 5 and 6 shake out singles wise. It’s indoors so this may not be the lineup the Deacs put out in May, but it’ll be close. If Gojo plays you would think the Gojo, Petros, Bar Botzer, and Melios Efstathiou make up the first four lines. But what do you do from there? Rrezart Cungu has been a staple of this lineup as has Julian Zlobinsky. But with the addition of Siddhant Banthia and having Alan Gadjiev and Yuval Solomon there as well it’s an interesting question of who makes up those last 2 spots. 3) Who on earth is playing doubles together. Go figure on that one cause I have no clue. If Gojo plays do you sit probably the best server on the team? Do you keep the same freshmen together? Morgan Dill has been playing there too and has a good doubles background? To me that’s the biggest question of the weekend and of the year figuring out who fits where for doubles. Sure it’s fine when you’re playing Garder-Webb and Arizona State. When you start going up against Florida, UVA, UNC, etc. you need to have that figured out.
If you’re in town, head to the Tennis Complex to watch! It’s a fantastic environment to be in. If you’re dumb and lame like me and live in a different state you can catch their match HERE at 5 pm.