If you follow my blog you know I recently coached a team at the BG12 Northeast Zone Team Championships. There were 4 Eastern teams and a total of 12 teams altogether. I thought it would be interesting to see where our Eastern kids, who played at the #1 position, did at Nationals just after playing at Zonals. Did they live up to their rankings? Did they exceed their rankings? Here is what I found.
First of all, my #1 player – Leah Ma – did not play Nationals but Leah came into Zonals as the lowest ranked of the Eastern player who had a National Ranking – she was ranked 193rd. The field for Nationals was choosen before Zonals were played. She played #1 on my team by virtue of her Eastern Ranking which was 11th in the Section.
Dasha Kourkina was the highest Nationally Ranked #1 Girl at Zonals. She came into the event ranked 62nd and came out of it ranked 41st. So which ranking is closest to where she belongs. If you go by her results at Hardcourt Nationals, it’s 41st. She beat Slade Coetzee (209), Lost to 17th seed Aleksandra Bekirova (37), Beat Yakatarina Alferova (85), Peyton Pesavento (75), Tia Mukherjee (53), Jessica Tsukiji (70), Abigail Forbes (169).
Michelle Sorokko lived up to her ranking and exceeded it by a little, whether you go by her pre-zonal ranking of 105th or her post zonal ranking of 82nd. She beat Slade Coetzee (209), Lost to 17th seed Aleksandra Bekirova (37), Beat Yakatarina Alferova (85), Peyton Pesavento (75), Tia Mukherjee (53), Jessica Tsukiji (70), Abigail Forbes (169).
Lastly, there was Chelsea Williams. Ranked 96th going into Zonals, ended up ranked 65th after Zonals. She beat Carmen Corley (64), Lost to Meg Kowalski (17th seed) (31), Beat Lahari Yelamanchili (192), lost to Zoe Hit (73), lost to Jessica Tsukiji (70). She exceeded her pre-zonals ranking of 96th, but didn’t quite live up to her 65th ranking because of the last two losses.
Looking at these results it seems that the Eastern Section players are a little underrated by the current point system, but that Zonals tends to even things out for those girls who play. The results, when based on there post zonals ranking are almost exactly where you would expect them to be based on the rankings at that time.
Lets look at other players from other sections who played #1 on their teams. Christina Hand – Middle States beat Samantah Lugtu (222), Lost to 12th seed Angel Carney (16), Beat Carolyn Brooner (115), Lost to Katelyn Thomas (17th seed) (43). Christina was 93rd before zonals and 55th afterwards. Alexis Almy came into zonals ranked 139th and left ranked 123rd. She beat Addison Brown (214), Lost to Abigail Markel (9th seed) (19), Beat Jenna Dean (202), Kolie Allen (67), Lost to Carolyn Brooner (115), Abigail Forbes (169). The combined record of these two players would seem to indicate that either ranking, before or after, were correct as either way, there was one more loss to a player ranked below, than there was wins against players ranked above – virtually even.
So why do players skip Zonals to better prepare for nationals? For one thing, it is the higher ranked players that skip Zonals and they might not improve their rankings. All of these players did improve their rankings. As a matter of fact, all 12 #1 players had better rankings coming out of zonals, then they did going in. The other factor for the higher ranked girls who skip Zonals is Tennis Recruiting which uses head to head results instead of points. Some higher ranked players do not want to risk a bad loss at an event like Zonals. Lea Ma is now ranked 25th for 6th graders on the National Recruiting List at Tennis Recruiting, Dasha Kourkina is ranked 12th, Chelsea Williams is 21st and Michelle Sorokko is ranked 31st. They are ranked 1, 2, 3, and 4 in New York State on the Tennis Recruiting site. Maybe after seeing these results, the rankings bump and the ratings bump that these players got from Zonals, more of the top ranked players from the Eastern Section will choose to play zonals next year. If they do, look out, we had the 4 best teams there already.