tennis-men-d1 flag | January 23, 2014

Season heats up with qualifying

Following a spattering of early season matches, the season gets makes a big splash with the ITA Kick-Off Weekend happening this weekend. A total of 60 teams -- including each top-10 team -- will compete in this qualifying tournament for next month's ITA National Team Indoor Championships in Houston, Texas.

Last year, the top four seeds all advanced to the semifinals in Seattle before top-ranked Virginia beat No. 2 Southern California 4-2 to win the title. This year, the Cavaliers will have to advance out of their regional that features No. 46 Elon, No. 65 Samford and unranked Indiana.

Virginia opens the season Friday by playing Elon (1-0), who moved up in the ITA rankings this week after upsetting then-No. 7 Duke in its season opener. The winner of that match will on Sunday play the winner of the Samford-Indiana match for the right to go to the tournament.

This scenario will be repeated at 14 other regional sites, and the winners will join host Texas A&M in this year's tournament that starts on Feb .14.

The ITA Kick-Off Weekend will also use the new experimental scoring format developed by the ITA. The three doubles matches will be played first, each consisting of one set to six using no-ad scoring. A tiebreaker will be played at 5-all. The six singles matches will follow and will be best of three sets. Singles will also use no-ad scoring and a tiebreaker at 5-all for each set.

Lob shots

Virginia also hosts Boston College and Navy on Sunday ... Southern California heads into the ITA KIck-Off Weekend ranked No. 4 nationally and will host Santa Clara in its first match ... UCLA and Oklahoma head into their tournament matches on the heels of a 7-0 wins this week ... Georgia has twice won the national team indoor title twice in its history (2006, '07) and most recently reached the finale in 2009 ... Ohio State hosts Louisville, Middle Tennessee State and Denver, and has not lost at home in its previous 174 matches ... Since 2009, Tennessee is 8-0 at home during ITA Kick-Off Weekend matches by a combined score of 43-8 ... The other three teams in Baylor's site are all ranked inside the top 50 .... Kentucky is looking for its fifth trip in a row to the national tournament ... Mississippi has participated in the National Team Indoor Championships 18 times including last year.

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