The field of 16 is set for the 2013 Intercollegiate Tennis Association (ITA) Division I National Women's Team Indoor Championship. The University of Virginia will serve as the host institution of the 26th annual Championship at The Boar's Head Sports Club in Charlottesville, Virginia.
An impressive 14 of the 15 No. 1 seeds that participated in the fifth annual ITA Kick-Off Weekend were able to advance to Charlottesville. Alabama, Baylor, Cal, Duke, Georgia, Miami (Fla.), Michigan, Nebraska, North Carolina, Northwestern, Texas, Texas A&M, UCLA and USC managed to fend off the competition; the Ole Miss Rebels were not as fortunate. Vanderbilt emerged from the Ole Miss site as the No. 3 seed to earn the right to compete for the prestigious national title.
A total of five conferences will be represented at this year's Championship, with the ACC and SEC each placing four teams in the draw. The Big Ten and Pac-12 are sending three teams a piece to Charlottesville, while the Big 12 will have two squads in the field of 16.
For complete coverage of the 2013 ITA Division I National Women's Team Indoor Championship, please visit the official ITA event page. Follow the ITA on Twitter, @ITAtennis, for updates and news from the weekend's events. Use the hashtag #ITAIndoors for all tweets in regards to the event, or search the term "ITAIndoors" to find others who are tweeting from across the nation about this year's Championship, Feb. 8-11.
Below is an in-depth look at the 16 teams in the hunt for the 2013 ITA Division I National Women's Team Indoor Championship crown.
Alabama: The Alabama Crimson Tide will be making its first appearance in the ITA Division I National Women's Team Indoor Championship. Alabama comes in with a ranking of No. 9 in the latest ITA National Women's Team Rankings and is seeded seventh. The Crimson Tide is 4-0 so far this season, securing three victories over ranked foes (No. 19 Clemson, No. 38 TCU, and No. 50 Memphis). Alabama has four players with a national singles ranking, led by 12th-ranked Mary Anne Macfarlane and 13th-ranked Alexa Guarachi. Freshmen Maya Jansen (59th) and Natalia Maynetto (105th) have also earned an ITA National Women's Singles ranking for their solid play so far this season. The duo of Macfarlane and Guarachi is also ranked second nationally in doubles. The Crimson Tide will be up against the Northwestern Wildcats on day one of the Championship.
Baylor: The Baylor Bears enter the Championship ranked No. 15 in the ITA Women's Team Rankings, but will be looking to shake off a tough 7-0 loss to the top-ranked Florida Gators in their last match. The Bears, with a 3-1 record overall, do own victories over No. 20 Texas Tech and No. 29 Florida State as part of 2013 ITA Kick-Off Weekend. Baylor lost its opening match of the 2012 ITA Division I National Women's Team Indoor Championship, but rebounded to win its final two matches of the event. The Bears are relying on several freshmen and newcomers this season, but sophomore Ema Burgic has been a steady competitor for the squad to this point, ranking 16th nationally in singles and 27th in doubles with Jordaan Sanford. Baylor has drawn second-seeded Duke in the first round.
Cal: The Cal Golden Bears are currently ranked No. 7 in the ITA Women's Team Rankings and are the fifth seed at this year's Championship. The Golden Bears have only played two matches so far this season, both of which were victories over ranked foes during ITA Kick-Off Weekend. Cal recorded both victories via a sweep, defeating No. 40 Saint Mary's and No. 56 Fresno State 7-0. The Golden Bears have a strong lineup once again this season, including two players in the top 10 of the ITA Women's Singles Rankings - seventh-ranked Zsofi Susanyi and ninth-ranked Anett Schutting. Cal also features 109th-ranked Lynn Chi and 110th-ranked Annie Goransson in its singles lineup. Two Golden Bear duos have played their way to a national ranking in doubles, as Schutting and Goransson check in at 32nd, while Alice Duranteau and Laura Posylkin sit at 59th. Cal will take on Michigan in its first match.
Duke: The Duke Blue Devils are the No. 3 ranked team in the ITA Women's Team Rankings this week and have earned the second seed. Duke has won all four of its matches by virtue of a sweep this spring, Those victories have come against No. 14 Northwestern, No. 53 William & Mary, No. 63 Wyoming and No. 75 Wisconsin. Despite the loss of standout sophomore Beatrice Capra, the Blue Devils still feature four players ranked inside the top 70 of the ITA Women's Singles Rankings, led by tenth-ranked Hanna Mar. The remaining nationally-ranked Duke players are Ester Goldfeld (40), Mary Clayton (53) and Marianne Jodoin (63). Goldfeld and Mar have also put together a great season so far as a doubles pair, as they are currently ranked 17th. Last season the Blue Devils reached the title match of the ITA Division I National Women's Team Indoor Championship, falling to UCLA. Duke is set to take on Baylor in the opening round.
Georgia: The Georgia Bulldogs are currently ranked No. 6 in the ITA Women's Team Rankings and are seeded fourth in this year's Championship. Georgia has a record of 3-0 on the young season, posting wins over No. 19 Clemson, No. 62 Georgia State and No. 70 Columbia. The Bulldogs are led in singles by eighth-ranked Lauren Herring, who appears to be ready for a bounce-back season after missing much of last year with an injury. Three other Georgia players are ranked in the latest ITA Women's Singles Rankings: Maho Kowase (18), Kate Fuller (54), and Makenzie Craft (76). The Bulldogs also have two doubles tandems ranked inside the top 25 nationally, but only 22nd-ranked Lilly Kimbell and Kowase will be competing together this week. Georgia will play the Texas Longhorns on day one.
Miami (Fla.): The Miami Hurricanes come into the 2013 ITA Division I National Women's Team Indoor Championship ranked No. 10 in the ITA Women's Team Rankings and are seeded eighth. The Hurricanes have already played five matches to this point in the season, winning four of those convincingly 7-0. The other match came against No. 33 Arizona State in ITA Kick-Off Weekend, as Miami (Fla.) was pushed to the limit before claiming the 4-3 triumph to advance to Charlottesville. The Hurricanes have three players ranked inside the top 100 of the ITA Women's Singles Rankings, including 51st-ranked Kelsey Laurente, 57th-ranked Lina Lileikite, and 92nd-ranked Stephanie Wagner. Talented freshman Monique Albuquerque, slated to play at the top singles position for Miami (Fla.), will see her first collegiate action of her career this week. The Hurricanes finished the 2012 ITA Division I National Women's Team Indoor Championship with a 2-1 record. Miami (Fla.) has drawn the Nebraska Cornhuskers in the first round.
Michigan: The Michigan Wolverines are currently ranked No. 16 nationally in the ITA Women's Team Rankings. Michigan opened up the season with defeats of No. 67 Brown, No. 30 South Carolina, and No. 25 Tennessee, but dropped its last match to No. 8 North Carolina by a score of 5-2. The top player for the Wolverines, sophomore Emina Bektas, continues to fight back from injury, while teammates Ronit Yurovsky (61) and Amy Zhu (94) are presently inside the top 100 of the ITA Women's Singles Rankings. Bekats and doubles partner Brooke Bolender have continued to play well together, ranking 21st nationally. Michigan will be looking to improve on its 1-2 record in last year's Championship, starting with its opening round match against the fifth-seeded Cal Golden Bears.
Nebraska: The Nebraska Cornhuskers sit at No. 17 in the ITA Women's Team Rankings and will be competing in the ITA Division I National Women's Team Indoor Championship for the first time in program history. Nebraska will bring a 5-0 record to Charlottesville, which includes a Big Ten victory over No. 55 Ohio State. The Cornhuskers also defeated No. 18 Notre Dame 4-1 and No. 25 Tennessee 4-3 during ITA Kick-Off Weekend. Nebraska will certainly be looked at as one of the underdog squads in this year's Championship, as the Huskers do not have one singles player or doubles duo with a national ranking. Nebraska will be taking on the eighth-seeded Miami Hurricanes in the opening round of the Championship.
North Carolina: The North Carolina Tar Heels are currently ranked No. 8 in the ITA Women's Team Rankings and have earned the sixth seed for this year's Championship. North Carolina has already collected wins over three ranked opponents this season, including defeating fellow 2013 ITA Division I National Women's Team Indoor Championship participant Michigan 5-2 in Chapel Hill. The Tar Heels are loaded with talent this season, boasting a staggering seven singles players in the top 125 of the ITA Women's Singles Rankings, including Gina Suarez-Malaguti (11), Whitney Kay (21), Zoe De Bruycker (28), and Caroline Price (36) in the top 40. North Carolina also has a pair of nationally-ranked doubles duos: eighth-ranked Ashley Dai and Kay along with 51st-ranked Tessa Lyons and Lauren McHale. The Tar Heels are set to face Texas A&M in the first round of play.
Northwestern: The Northwestern Wildcats enter as the No. 14 team in the ITA Women's Team Rankings. The Wildcats have played four matches this season, all of which have come against top 40 opponents. Northwestern owns wins over No. 37 Arkansas and No. 26 Purdue, but fell to No. 3 Duke and No. 21 Vanderbilt, both of which are also competing in this year's Championship. Veteran Kate Turvy once again leads the Wildcats in singles, playing at the top position with a current ranking of 67th in the nation. Northwestern also has a very talented top doubles tandem in Linda Abu Mushrefova and Nida Hamilton, who currently sit at 42nd nationally in doubles. The Wildcats are set to play seventh-seeded Alabama on the opening day.
Texas: The Texas Longhorns come into this year's ITA Division I National Women's Team Indoor Championship ranked No. 11 in the ITA Women's Team Rankings. The Longhorns haven't played since Kick-Off Weekend, where they defeated No. 64 Wichita State 5-0 and No. 35 Utah 4-1. Texas has several key players back from last year's squad that participated in this Championship, including Aeriel Ellis and 79th-ranked Noel Scott. The Longhorns will be looking for better doubles play in Charlottesville this week, as no Texas duos are currently ranked nationally. The Longhorns have drawn fourth-seeded Georgia in the first round, the same team they played on day one of the 2012 ITA Division I National Women's Team Indoor Championship.
Texas A&M: SEC newcomer Texas A&M sit at No. 13 in the latest ITA Women's Team Rankings. The Aggies have only played two matches to this point this spring, collecting a 4-1 win over No. 54 North Texas before defeating No. 28 Arizona 4-0 to advance to the 2013 ITA Division I National Women's Team Indoor Championship. Perennial top 10 player Cristina Sanchez-Quintanar is the top singles player for Texas A&M, as she is ranked third in the nation, while Cristina Stancu is currently 45th and Wen Sun is 82nd. Stancu, a transfer from Maryland, has also added to the Aggies' depth in doubles, teaming up with freshman Stefania Hristov as the seventh-ranked doubles pair in the ITA Women's Doubles Rankings. Texas A&M will play sixth-seeded North Carolina in its first match.
UCLA: The UCLA Bruins come into this year's Championship as the defending champions after defeating Duke 4-0 in the finals last season. They are currently ranked No. 2 in the ITA Women's Team Rankings and have earned the top seed overall. The Bruins are 3-0 on the season, with all three wins coming at home over ranked opponents - No. 44 Washington, No. 49 San Diego, and No. 65 UC Irvine. The Bruins bring four nationally-ranked singles players to Charlottesville, led by sixth-ranked Robin Anderson, who is undefeated on the year and has already claimed singles titles at the 2012 USTA/ITA Southwest Region Championships and the 2012 USTA/ITA National Indoor Intercollegiate Championships. Anderson is also ranked 16th in doubles with fellow sophomore Skylar Morton. UCLA could be without the services of 96th-ranked Pamela Montez in singles, as she is still recovering from a hand injury. The Bruins will face Vanderbilt in the first round.
USC: The USC Trojans are currently ranked No. 4 in the ITA Women's Team Rankings and have been awarded the third seed in the 2013 ITA Division I National Women's Team Indoor Championship after reaching the semifinals in the event last year. The Women of Troy are 5-0 on the season and have yet to drop a single point in a dual match, including most recently sweeping No. 33 Pepperdine 7-0 in Malibu. USC brings an impressive singles lineup into this year's Championship, with its top three players (Danielle Lao, Sabrina Santamaria, and Zoe Scandalis) all ranked inside the top 20 of the ITA Women's Singles Rankings. Santamaria and Christian lead the way for the Women of Troy in doubles, ranked first in the nation with a record of 15-0, including titles at both the 2012 ITA/Riviera Women's All-American Championships and the 2012 USTA/ITA National Indoor Intercollegiate Championships. Scandalis has also been very successful in doubles this season, ranking 13th with Gabriella DeSimone. The Women of Troy are up against host institution Virginia in the opening round of play.
Vanderbilt: A dangerous unseeded squad in the 2013 ITA Division I National Women's Team Indoor Championship draw, the Vanderbilt Commodores enter the event ranked No. 21 in the ITA Women's Team Rankings. However, the Commodores are 4-0 on the year with victories at home against No. 14 Northwestern (4-2), at No. 22 Georgia Tech (6-1), and on a neutral court against No. 24 Yale (4-1) and No. 31 Illinois (4-1). Vanderbilt has three players nationally-ranked in singles, including 91st-ranked Marie Casares, 102nd-ranked Courtney Colton, and 115th-ranked Frances Altick. The Commodores face the tough task of taking on top-seeded UCLA in their first match of the Championship.
Virginia: The Virginia Cavaliers are currently ranked No. 12 in the ITA Women's Team Rankings and will once again serve as the host school for this year's Championship being held at the Boar's Head Sports Club in Charlottesville, Va. The Cavaliers have only played one match this spring, as they got an automatic bid into the 2013 ITA Division I National Women's Team Indoor Championship as the host institution, defeating No. 47 VCU 5-2 on the road. Freshman Julia Elbaba, on the strength of reaching the singles final of the 2012 ITA/Riviera Women's All-American Championships, is ranked fourth nationally in singles, while Stephanie Nauta is 43rd and Li Xi is right behind her at 44th. Xi and Nauta are also ranked 10th as a doubles tandem after advancing to the finals of the 2012 USTA/ITA National Indoor Intercollegiate Championships. Teammates Erin Vierra and Maci Epstein are the fifth-ranked doubles pair in the nation thanks to taking home the consolation doubles crown at the USTA/ITA National Indoor Intercollegiate Championships. Virginia is set to play third-seeded USC on day one.
The 2013 ITA Division I National Women's Team Indoor Championship will be held at the sports facility of The Boar's Head, recognized as a top 50 tennis resort in the United Stated by Tennis Magazine. The Boar's Head was also named the 2008 Private Facility of the Year by Racquet Sports Industry Magazine, while also receiving recognition from TennisResorts.com as one of the top 75 tennis resorts in the world. The facility contains a total of 26 courts: 10 Har-Tru outdoor courts, four outdoor hard courts, and 12 state-of-the-art DecoTurf indoor courts.