The UVA men's tennis team pose with their NCAA trophies.

Previewing the 2024 NCAA College Tennis Season

The men’s and women’s 2023 NCAA champions are returning in 2024 with the majority of their championship squads, setting both programs up as top favorites heading into the spring season.

Tar Heels Look to Defend

The defending University of North Carolina women’s team (which boasts the highest UTR Power 6 at 66.09) have all their starters and continued their momentum by winning multiple national championships in the fall season.

The Tar Heels swept the singles and doubles titles at the ITA Fall Nationals, with sophomore Reese Brantmeier (UTR 11.28) winning the singles title and then teaming up with senior Elizabeth Scotty (10.46) to win the doubles title.

Brantmeier has the sixth-highest UTR Rating among all female collegiate players, five spots behind her teammate and top-rated senior Fiona Crawley (11.68) who played just one college event this past semester.

Owning an overall 124-12 singles college record, Crawley won her first ITF singles title in October at the W25 in Florence, South Carolina. This was after she earned three consecutive wins over Top-200 WTA opponents to qualify for the US Open main draw.

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Stanford Looms Behind UNC

The only team with a Power 6 that is within a single point of North Carolina is Stanford (65.65). The Cardinal have a blend of youth and experience, returning their Top 5 singles players while also adding two elite freshmen in Katherine Hui (11.22) and Eleana Yu (10.54).

Hui began her time at Stanford with a lot of momentum, having reached the final of the Billie Jean King National Championships in 18s singles last summer before winning the US Open girls’ singles title.

When North Carolina won its first women’s tennis national championship last season, it made it 21 national championships for programs not named Stanford. The Cardinal has, by far, the most women’s tennis NCAA titles with 20 (winning most recently in 2019).

Neither North Carolina nor Stanford currently have a single student-athlete on their teams that is a transfer, which is a contrast to many programs in the transfer portal era. Both teams have starting lineups of entirely Americans.

Virginia Looks Strong into 2024

On the men’s side, defending champions Virginia return five of their six singles starters while also adding talented freshman Dylan Dietrich (13.58) plus experienced graduate transfers Edoardo Graziani (12.82) and James Hopper (12.47).

The Hoos are led by their Big 3, consisting of seniors Inaki Montes de la Torre (14.04), Chris Rodesch (13.92), and Jeffrey von der Schulenburg (13.46). This trio will attempt to end their college careers with three consecutive NCAA Championships, as Virginia also won the title in 2022.

Virginia’s Power 6 of 80.85 is the fifth-highest behind Texas (83.58), Ohio State (82.14), TCU (82.14), and Stanford (81.33).

Virginia’s foe in the final last season, Ohio State, brings back five of their six singles starters while also adding freshman Bryce Nakashima (13.03), younger brother of pro Brandon Nakashima.

The Buckeyes have reached the NCAA Tournament final three times in the last 15 years but have yet to capture the elusive outdoors title. Leading the team this year are seniors Cannon Kingsley (14.14), JJ Tracy (13.82), and Justin Boulais (13.76).

Texas Schools Looks to Challenge

The Longhorns have the most loaded squad this spring, returning their starters from last season and also beefing up with freshmen and transfers. After deciding to return and utilize his final year of eligibility, fifth-year senior Eliot Spizzirri (14.14) holds the eighth-highest UTR Rating in the nation. He is closely followed by January freshman Gilles-Arnaud Bailly (14.09), the younger brother of junior Pierre-Yves Bailly (14.03).

The 18-year-old Gilles-Arnaud Bailly is a former runner-up in singles at the boys’ Roland Garros and US Open, before competing exclusively on the pro tour this past year and achieving a Top 500 ATP singles ranking.

Another pair of siblings have joined forces in Austin for the Longhorns as Jonah Braswell (13.23) transferred from Florida following his freshman season to join senior Micah Braswell (13.91). The elder Braswell took the singles title at the ITA National Fall Championships.

Three hours north of the Longhorns lies another dangerous program in the state of Texas that also made the semifinals of the NCAA Tournament last season. The TCU Horned Frogs have the second and fourth highest-rated players in the country with Jacob Fearnley (14.26) and Pedro Vives, as well as the 17th in Jack Pinnington Jones (13.91).

While there are some individual tournaments and dual matches beginning now, the first big event of the college tennis season will take place during the final weekend of January with the ITA Kickoff Weekend taking place across the country. Winners at each of the regional sites will advance to the ITA Team Indoor Championship in mid-February before conference tournaments take place in April and lastly, the NCAA Tournament commences in May.

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