Small College Nationals: 10 fun/meaningless stats

Happy Wednesday, boys and girls, and welcome to the first of The Blog’s Small College Nationals (now called the ITA Oracle Cup) preview articles! We are hoping to have a prediction article out for you tonight, a roundtable article for you tomorrow morning, and perhaps even more if my fellow bloggers get their acts together. In a recent article, we had a commenter ask about the history of Small College Nationals, so I decided to channel my inner Guru and take a look back at this pinnacle of fall tournaments between 2008 (the inception of The Blog) and 2016. We will also be doing another history type of Small College Nationals article after the conclusion of the tournament, so stay on the lookout. I have spent far too much time going back through these old draws to see what I could find, and I realized two unavoidable truths. The first is that I am a huge nerd, and the second is that none of the past tournaments have any real effect on this one! The racquets will certainly do the talking down in Rome, Georgia this weekend, but just in case you’re a bit nerdy too, here are some of the “fun” stats I found.

  1. PLAY-IN VERTIGO. Don’t sleep on today’s play-in match! While Whitman and Trinity Tx have dominated their respective regional ITAs in the past nine years (now a combined 16 out of 20 singles appearances), but we get some “different” contenders on the singles side today when Fagundes (UT-Tyler) takes on Watanabe (GFU). However, I put different in quotation marks because both Fagundes and Watanabe made the draw last year as well. Both guys will be looking to improve on their 8th (UTT) and 9th (GFU) place finishes, and I’d bet that the winner of the play-in match will do just that.
  2. PLAY-IN DUBS PROWESS. Another play-in fun fact, this time on the doubles side. While the Northwest and Southwest ITA winners may have to play an extra match, that’s not necessarily a bad thing for the winner of that match! The Southwest has produced three Small College Nationals doubles champions over the past nine years, and the SW rep has made the finals in each of the past three years. Before that Whitman made back-to-back appearances in the finals of the tournament, eventually falling to the New England representative each time. Overall, the winner of the play-in doubles match has MADE THE FINALS OF THE TOURNAMENT in six of the past nine years!
  3. TOP SEED SORROWS. Moving to the main draw, being a top seed does not guarantee you anything in this tournament. Neither the No. 1 seed nor the No. 2 seed has made the singles finals in any of the past five years! On the doubles side of things, the overall No. 1 seed is only 5-4 in 1st round matches since 2008. Being the top seed is nice, but when you lose, it means about as much as a kiss on the lips from you Great Aunt Shirley who suffers from crippling halitoses. It just leaves a bad taste in your mouth.
  4. SEEDED VS UNSEEDED (The Rye bread debate). To backtrack a little, being a seed is nice at first because it means you “theoretically” don’t have to play one of the three other best opponents in the draw. However, the unseeded have actually won more singles and doubles titles over the past nine years, than the seeded players. That being said, 1/2 the draw has been seeded in the past seven iterations of this event, the numbers do work out to almost a 50-50 split. Unseeded players have won 10 combined singles and doubles titles, while seeded players have won 8 times. Basically, the smart money says that there is no smart money.
  5. DUAL CHAMPS. Since the beginning of The Blog, no player has ever won both the singles and the doubles versions of this tournament. We have multiple attempts coming this year, as Alhouni (GAC), Fagundes (UT-Tyler), Wynne (Skidmore) and Yuan (Chicago), are all entered in both events. Alhouni is the first during this span to be the top seed in both draws. The closest guy to accomplish that feat was Mike “MVP” Buxbaum who was the No. 2 seed in singles in the 2014 draw and the top doubles seed along with Emerson Walsh.
  6. DOUBLES CHAMPIONS. As I said before, Trinity TX has the most doubles champions with three, but in looking at the other previous doubles champions, they have only come out of three different regions. New England has the most with four champs (two Midd and two Williams), the Southwest has three (all Trinity TX), and the South has the remaining two (both Emory). Bowdoin, UT-Tyler, and Emory will try to keep the streak alive by taking home the doubles crown this year.
  7. SINGLES CHAMPIONS. On the singles side, there is a far more diverse set of champions, representing a total of six of the nine regions. The South leads the way with three singles champions, all of whom came from Emory. Not that there’s any pressure on Jemison or anything. JJ is now the sixth seeded singles champ from EU in the past eight years. In fact, Emory is the only team to have won this singles draw multiple times over the past nine years. The other singles champs are from GAC (Midwest), Wash U (Central), Trinity TX (Southwest), CMU (Southeast), Chicago (Central), and Midd (New England).
  8. SINGLES AVERAGE FINISH. Not surprisingly due to Emory’s many titles, the South ITA champion has performed the best in the singles draw of Small College Nationals. Here are the average finishes for each region over the past nine years. 1) South–average finish: 3.00, 2) New England–average finish: 3.125, 3) Central–average finish: 3.33 4) Southeast–average finish: 4.22, 5) West–average finish: 4.44, 6) Northeast–average finish: 5.33, 7) Midwest–average finish: 5.67, 8) Southwest–average finish: 6.78, 9) Northwest–average finish: 8.33. Remember that the Southwest and Northwest have a play-in match every year, so one of those two teams is guaranteed to finish in 9th place, really killing their average finish ranking.
  9. DOUBLES AVERAGE FINISH. Let’s look at the same thing on the doubles side of things (although it starts off similarly). 1) South–average finish: 3.00, 2) New England–average finish: 3.33, 3) Central–average finish: 4.33, 4) West–average finish: 4.56, 5) Southwest–average finish: 4.78, 6) Southeast–average finish: 5.44, 7) Northeast–average finish: 5.56, 8) Midwest–average finish: 6.56, 9) Northwest–average finish: 7.44. I don’t think anything should be taken away from these rankings with regards to this years tournament, but the amount of top players that Emory has produced over almost a decade is really impressive.
  10. REGIONAL REPRESENTATION. Now that we know the average finish of each region, let’s give some props the schools themselves. The following is a list of times that a school has represented its region over the past decade (which includes this year’s competitors).
    • CENTRAL: Chicago–8 (4 singles/4 doubles), Wash U–7 (4 singles/3 doubles), Kenyon–3 (2 singles, 1 doubles), North Central–1 (singles), DePauw–1 (doubles), Illinois Wesleyan–1 (doubles).
    • MIDWEST: GAC–11 (7 singles/4 doubles), UW-Whitewater (1 singles/4 doubles), Kenyon–1 (singles), Dubuque–1 (singles), Luther–1 (doubles), St. Thomas–1 (doubles).
    • NEW ENGLAND: Middlebury–6 (4 singles/ 2doubles), Williams–4 (2 singles/2 doubles), Amherst–2 (1 singles/1 doubles, Bowdoin–3 (1 singles/2 doubles), Herst would have three but they Yaraghi didn’t compete the year he won the regional), Bates–2 (2 doubles), Wesleyan–1(singles).
    • NORTHEAST: Skidmore–9 (5 singles/4 doubles), Vassar–3 (2 singles, 1 doubles), NYU–2 (1 singles/1 doubles), Stevens–2 (1 singles/1 doubles), Hunter–1 (singles), Drew–1 (doubles), Ithaca–1 (doubles), RPI–1 (doubles).
    • NORTHWEST: Whitman–16 (8 singles/8 doubles), George Fox–3 (2 singles/1 doubles), Pacific Lutheran–1 (doubles).
    • SOUTH: Emory–16 (9 singles/7 doubles), NC Wesleyan–3 (1 singles/2 doubles), Sewanee–1 (doubles).
    • SOUTHEAST: Hopkins–9 (3 singles/6 doubles), CMU–7 (5 singles/2 doubles), CNU–2 (1 singles/1 doubles), Washington & Lee–1 (singles), Mary Washington–1 (doubles).
    • SOUTHWEST: Trinity Tx–16 (8 singles/8 doubles), UT-Tyler–4 (2 singles/2 doubles).
    • WEST: CMS–10 (7 singles/3 doubles), UCSC–6 (1 singles/5 doubles), Cal Lu–2 (1 singles/1 doubles), Pomona-Pitzer–1 (doubles), Redlands–1 (singles).

  2 comments for “Small College Nationals: 10 fun/meaningless stats

  1. D3Fan
    October 11, 2017 at 8:32 pm

    Is there a posting somewhere that lists the ultimate singles and doubles winners going back to 2008? If not, it would be great to have that information

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