Before the dual match season starts for #1 Stanford, there are two more tournaments to take care of before we get there, and both start Friday morning--the Freeman Memorial Championships in Las Vegas, NV, and the National Collegiate Tennis Classic in Rancho Mirage, CA. We'll send split squad delegations to each, though with a stronger team going to the Freeman. Why? The Freeman has an absolutely stacked draw, with players from #1 Stanford, #3 Florida, #5 North Carolina, #6 Pepperdine, #12 Texas, #16 Oklahoma State, and #17 UCLA. Some of those teams will also send players to the NCTC, but the better test is the Freeman.
Melissa Lord won the 2017 Freeman Memorial Championships, beating two Top 10 players (including then-No.4 Ena Shibahara of UCLA in the championship match) and another ranked player along the way. It didn't go as well for the other players we sent to Las Vegas, as Taylor Davidson, Caroline Doyle, and Emily Arbuthnott all lost in the first round. (Thus, we sent our intended 1, 2, 3, and 5 singles players, and both of our top doubles teams.)
Caroline Lampl was joined by Emma Higuchi and Kimberly Yee at the NCTC last year, where Lampl made a run to the semifinals before falling to U$C's Gabby Smith (currently #35), while Higuchi lost in the quarterfinals to the #4 player from Texas last year, Anna Turati (currently #87). The NCTC is still a very good tournament, and it'll give our players a good early test.
No announcement yet, but I expect Lele to keep to form and send the stronger squad to the Freeman. Assuming she wants to keep this fall's doubles pairings together, it makes it nice and neat to send our likely top 4 singles players (Lord, Michaela Gordon, Arbuthnott, and Lampl) and top 2 doubles teams from this fall (Arbuthnott/Gordon and Lampl/Lord).
Expect Emma Higuchi to headline the squad headed to the NCTC, where she should be joined by freshman Janice Shin and junior Kimberly Yee, each of whom could hold down the #6 spot in the singles lineup this year. Watch who is paired with Higuchi in the doubles competition, however, as that should be a strong indicator of what Lele intends to do with the #6 spot.
As for the walk-ons, expect to see them split as well, with most competing in the "B" flight at the Freeman. While 7 scholarship players on the roster means seeing walk-ons in dual matches is unlikely, it's always good to see who can respectably hold down the #6 spot in a pinch if injuries require it.
Can I watch?
Sorry, no, unless you'll be on site at either place. No video at either tournament, and no live scoring, either, so tracking results as they happen will require the hit-or-miss strategy of following opposing teams' accounts on Twitter (the official Stanford account is great, and will presumably tweet out an article with the results at the end of each day, but other teams' accounts tend to go in for more live score updates than ours does). If you live near Las Vegas and don't have other plans, however, you could do worse than seeing 18 Top 50 players face off in the field of 32.
The draws aren't out yet, but the schedule at the Freeman Memorial Championships (which has a 16-team tournament in doubles and a 32-player main flight in singles, plus consolation matches and a "B" flight in singles as well) is as follows:
* Doubles Round of 16 at 10:00am
* Singles Round of 32 to follow
* Singles Round of 16 to follow
* Doubles Quarterfinals at 10:00am
* Singles Quarterfinals to follow
* Singles Semifinals to follow
* Doubles Semifinals at 10:00am
* Doubles Final to follow
* Singles Final to follow
Singles and doubles action will also kick off on Friday at the National Collegiate Tennis Classic in Rancho Mirage. Like the Freeman, singles will see the Rounds of 32 and 16 take place Friday, with the quarterfinals and semifinals on Saturday, and the final on Sunday. We'll have to wait until Friday morning for the draw and Stanford's matchups, as the draw will get put together Thursday evening.
I'll update when we have more details, but I'm excited to see this team get started!