NCAA 2017 Tennis Tournament: Our Players, Selection Show and the Role of the Committee


The selection committee has spoken. The NCAA tennis tournament brackets were unveiled on May 2. Our student-athletes on scholarship already know their path to a potential Division I national championship.

Using basketball slang, May Madness is underway!

In the women’s draw, the Georgia Bulldogs received the fifth overall seed. Marta Huqing González Encinas and her teammates will host South Carolina State at their home courts in Athens. Should they fulfil the expectations and beat the reigning Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference chamos, the Daws will face the winner of the tie between Oregon and North Carolina State.

“It is always a fun part of the year for us, we are in the middle of final exams and it is nice to take a break and see these selections,” head coach Jeff Wallace told UGA Athletics.

On the men’s bracket, Guillermo de Nicolás is set to travel to the West Coast to play against the prestigious University of California at Berkeley. The Tennessee Tech Golden Eagles, on the back of an impressive Ohio Valley Conference title run, will try to knock the 8th seed Golden Bears out of the tournament.

TTU’s athletic department put together a selection show viewing party so that players, staff, alumni and fans could find out their destination together.

However, when your spot in the draw has already been secured, the live ceremony lacks a dose of uncertainty, doesn’t it? What seems really thrilling is to withstand the whole show without having a guaranteed ticket. Please refrain to do so if you have a heart condition.

Kansas Women’s. Picture: KU Athletics.

Enter the University of Kansas women’s tennis squad. The Jayhawks, currently ranked 31st in the ITA list, were in what is known as the bubble; i.e. their resume had to be taken in consideration for an at-large bid by the selection committee, but the possibility of being snubbed still existed. Eventually, KU will compete for the national championship for the second straight season after a 17-year-long drought.

There are probably several programs very upset with the committee’s judgement after being left out. There’s always plenty of controversy. In all sports.

‘The BIG 10 champion totally deserved a spot in the College Football Playoff over the PAC 12 winner!’ ‘This 28-win mid major program is definitely more worthy of a March Madness berth than this 18-win school that plays in a Power 5 conference.’ Same stuff happens in tennis.

Americans love numbers. College basketball pundits use endless ratings to argue for or against a team, such as RPI, BPI, KenPom, Sagarin, SOS… and still fall short of the absolute truth. As far as I know, college tennis is not driven by advanced stats yet. Hence, the 12-person committee (conference reps and mostly coaches) uses a more subjective approach to put together the 64-team field.

Anyway, you can’t please everybody on Selection Day.

Best of luck to Marta and Guille! May the VT Sports’ force be with you!

Text: Pablo Mosquera