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What To Watch - Jan. 29-31, 2016

Bobby Knight, the founder and content producer of the College Tennis Today blog (www.collegetennistoday.com) previews several key Division I men's and women's matches this weekend, in addition to providing live scoring and video links.

The 2016 ITA Kick-Off Weekend was an exhilarating weekend of college tennis, with one heart-thumping dual-match thriller after another, and after looking over this weekend’s featured matches, I think college tennis fans are in for another action-packed ride.

I’ll start off with the three-featured events on the men’s side and then look at the three-featured events on the women’s side. You’ll notice I have six men’s matches listed but I’m lumping the four matches at the LA Tennis Center into the same bucket since they are all part of the Pac-12/SEC Challenge.  

UCLA will host the 3rd annual Pac-12/SEC Challenge after the event was hosted by Georgia last year and USC two years ago. All four participants are ranked in the Top 20 with three of them coming off a successful 2016 ITA Kick-Off Weekend. Sixth-ranked Georgia (2-0), which is the highest ranked of the four, is coming off a pair of 4-1 wins over No. 47 UC Santa Barbara and No. 40 Memphis. Eighth-ranked USC (2-0) won both its matches last weekend, beating No. 53 UC Davis 7-0 and No. 32 Tulane 4-3. Twelfth-ranked UCLA (3-0) won a trio of matches last week, defeating No. 69 San Francisco, No. 49 SMU and No. 39 Georgia Tech. Florida (3-1), ranked No. 20, split matches last week, winning at No. 26 Texas before losing a heart breaker to No. 14 Texas Tech 4-3. USC was the big winner at last year’s Pac-12/SEC Challenge, going 2-0, while Georgia and Florida each went 1-1.

A pair of Top 10 teams will battle on Saturday night in Chapel Hill as No. 10 North Carolina (4-0) hosts No. 7 Illinois (3-0). This will be the fourth matchup between the two over the last 24 months. North Carolina won at home in 2014, Illinois won at home in 2015 and North Carolina won in Waco, Texas, last May in the 2015 NCAA Division I Men’s Tennis Championship Round of 16. Both teams have three ranked singles starters although each team’s number one is unranked after taking the fall off (North Carolina’s Brayden Schnur/Illinois’s Aleks Vukic).

Second-ranked Oklahoma (2-0) will be playing in front of a televised audience on Sunday when it hosts No. 11 Wake Forest (4-0) at the Gregg Wadley Indoor Tennis Pavilion. Fox Sports Oklahoma/Fox College Sports Central will have its cameras rolling as each team looks to pick up an early season signature win. Both teams hosted regionals last weekend with Oklahoma defeating No. 68 Troy and Utah State, while Wake Forest picked up wins over No. 41 Tennessee and No. 55 Auburn. Oklahoma went to Winston-Salem last season and won the regular-season meeting 5-2.

The highest profile match of the weekend on the women’s side will take place in Nashville, Tennessee, as the No. 1 Vanderbilt (2-0) hosts No. 8 Stanford (1-0). These two teams have won two of the last three NCAA Division I Women’s National Championships, with Vanderbilt winning it last year in, while Stanford won it all in 2013. Vanderbilt’ singles lineup is anchored by No. 24 Sydney Campbell and No. 15 Frances Altick, while Stanford is led by No. 20 Taylor Davidson and No. 39 Caroline Doyle. Stanford won last year’s meeting in Palo Alto 4-3, with Davidson clinching it 7-5 in the third over Altick at No. 3 singles.

Fifth-ranked North Carolina (4-0) will face its first Top 25 opponent of the young season when it hosts No. 9 Texas A&M (3-0) on Sunday afternoon. North Carolina is coming off a weekend sweep of No. 48 Tulsa and No. 70 Yale and will be led by No. 6 Hayley Carter and No. 88 Whitney Kay. Texas A&M beat South Alabama and No. 34 Wichita State over the weekend and then blanked No. 15 Baylor in Waco on Wednesday night. The Aggies are led in singles by No. 53 Saska Gavrilovska and No. 58 Rachel Pierson. These two teams met a year ago in Houston with North Carolina pulling out a 4-3 decision.

The two highest ranked teams in the Big Ten meet in Ann Arbor on Sunday afternoon as No. 12 Michigan (2-0) hosts No. 16 Ohio State (4-0). The Big Ten has 14 tennis-playing members but since Ohio State and Michigan weren’t scheduled to play this year they scheduled this non-conference match. Ohio State beat No. 18 Pepperdine and No. 22 TCU last weekend to book its first spot at the ITA Division I National Women’s Team Indoor Championship since 2001, while Michigan booked its spot with wins over San Francisco and No. 22 Kentucky. Last season Michigan won the regular-season meeting in Columbus 6-1 and then beat the Buckeyes 4-0 in the Big Ten Tournament Championship.

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Make sure you follow each of these matches at the provided live scoring links. I’ll be in Los Angeles for the Pac-12/SEC Challenge, so follow me on Twitter for updates throughout the weekend.

If you want to read my thoughts and predictions on this weekends action you can head over to my site College Tennis Today.

Pac-12/SEC Challenge (Los Angeles Tennis Center)

Live Scoring (same link for all matches): http://www.uclabruins.com/fls/30500/stats/tennis/xlive.htm?&DB_OEM_ID=30500&DB_LANG=&IN_SUBSCRIBER_CONTENT=
Saturday – No. 20 Florida vs. No. 8 USC – 1 p.m. ET/10 a.m. PT  
Saturday - No. 6 Georgia at No. 12 UCLA – 4 p.m. ET/1 p.m. PT
Sunday - No. 6 Georgia vs. No. 8 USC – 1 p.m. ET/10 a.m. PT
Sunday - No. 20 Florida at No. 12 UCLA – 4 p.m. ET/1 p.m. PT

Saturday - No. 7 Illinois at No. 10 North Carolina – 6 p.m. ET
Live Scoring: http://www.goheels.com/ViewArticle.dbml?DB_OEM_ID=3350&ATCLID=206004361
Live Video: http://www.goheels.com/liveEvents/liveEvents.dbml?SPID=12971&SITE=UNC&db_oem_id=3350

Sunday - No. 11 Wake Forest at No. 2 Oklahoma – 1 p.m. ET/12 p.m. CT
Live Scoring: http://www.statbroadcast.com/events/statmonitr.php?gid=okla
Fox Sports Go: http://www.foxsports.com/foxsportsgo/?DB_OEM_ID=31000

Saturday - No. 8 Stanford at No. 1 Vanderbilt – 12 p.m. ET/11 a.m. CT

Live Scoring: http://www.vucommodores.com/livestats/w-tennis/xlive.htm

Sunday - No. 9 Texas A&M at No. 5 North Carolina – 12 p.m. ET
Live Scoring:
Live Streaming: http://www.goheels.com/mediaPortal/player.dbml?&id=1605678&catid=0&KEY=&DB_OEM_ID=3350

Sunday – No. 16 Ohio State at No. 12 Michigan – 1 p.m. ET
Live Scoring & Video: http://www.mgoblue.com/sports/w-tennis/spec-rel/live-scoring-dual.html