The NCAAs: Five to Watch


As we approach the combined NCAA Men's and Women's Tennis Championships (May 20-31 at the University of Georgia in Athens, Ga.), Inside Tennis takes a closer look at the collegiate game's best:



STRONG>Irina Falconi (Georgia Tech): Falconi is the top ranked player in the country. As of April 3, the right-handed sophomore had notched out a dozen consecutive straight set wins. The last time she dropped a set was during a tight three-set loss to then No. 6-ranked Caitlin Whoriskey of Tennessee. Falconi's 18-1 out of her last 19 matches, including six wins over players in the top 20.

Jana Juricova (Cal): The 5-foot-11 native of Slovakia with a punishing right-handed forehand is ranked third in the nation and she's the first women's tennis player in Golden Bear history to be named Pac-10 Player of the Week three times. She recently scored her sixth consecutive win with a three-set victory over No. 2-ranked Maria Sanchez of USC and defeated Georgia Tech's Irina Falconi in the final of the ITA National Indoor Singles Championship.

Maria Sanchez (USC): A 5-foot-10 junior and California native with an aggressive two-handed backhand. So far this season Sanchez won the ITA Regionals and advanced to the Round of 16at the ITA Indoor Championships. She recently pulled out a gutsy three-set win over Stanford's Hillary Barte, currently ranked No. 8 in the nation.

Lenka Broosova (Baylor): The senior from Slovakia has won seven matches in a row, with her only loss of the season coming in a tight three-setter against the nation's second ranked player, USC's Maria Sanchez. Broosova has six wins over players ranked in the top 25 this season and is currently ranked No. 6 in the nation.

Hillary Barte (Stanford): Barte has an impressive 17-1 record as of April 3 with eight of those wins over players ranked in the nation's top 30. The junior is currently ranked No. 8 in the nation.


John-Patrick Smith (Tennessee): Smith, a versatile lefty, has won nine of his last 10 completed matches and has wins over the 10th and 13th ranked players in the nation this season. During the '09 fall season the 6-foot-2 junior from Australia became only the third casino online player in history to win the singles and doubles titles at the ITA All-American.

Guillermo Gomez (Georgia Tech): The junior from Spain has won six of his last seven matches. Currently ranked No. 4, Gomez has an explosive serve and has the ability to push his opponents out of their comfort zones with his scrappy play and mental toughness. Gomez was also a finalist in the ITA National Intercollegiate Indoor Championship.

Steve Johnson (USC): Currently the top ranked player in the country. Johnson has won eight of his last 10 matches. The sophomore also won the ITA National Intercollegiate Indoor Championship with a three-set win over No. 4 Guillermo Gomez of Georgia Tech.

Michael Shabaz (UVA): The junior has 14 wins and just three losses so far this season. His wins include a straight set victory over the No. 2 ranked player in the country, John-Patrick Smith. Shabaz is a tenacious right-hander with a two handed back hand and the ability to work his opponents all over the court.

Chase Buchanan (Ohio State): Sophomore Chase Buchanan has racked up 15 wins as of April 3 with just one loss so far in the spring season. Seven of the 6-foot-2 right-hander's 15 wins are over players ranked in the nation's top 35.

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