ATLANTA, GEORGIA — For those of you who have left the days of college, let me tell you, this semester on the Flats is quite strange. Classes started on a Thursday, most classes don’t meet on Fridays, and Spring Break was replaced with two random days scattered on two different weeks. Yours truly is a TA this time around, so it is going to be busy so sitting around for an extra five days before things actually start has me a little stir crazy. Luckily, we actually have a surprisingly large dose of non-revenue sports in action, perhaps the most since basketball wrapped up last spring.
So we can be thankful for the sports we do have back, and that things aren’t busy on campus for the time being. Goodness knows there will be lighter weeks of sports on the horizon, along with heavier weeks of school.
Last Week on the Flats
Women’s Basketball (6-3 Overall, 2-0 Last Week)
Polls - AP: NR / Coaches: NR
Nerd Stuff - NET: #31 / RPI: #16
Much like their male counterparts, the ladies were on the shelf with COVID protocols, however the sidelining came from both of their opponents winding up with cases this week, rather than within the program. They tentatively plan to return to play this coming week with two games on the schedule. Still managed to go up two places in RPI, even despite not playing.
#12 Women’s Tennis (2-0 Overall, 2-0 This Week)
It was a solid start to the season for the Racquet Jackets, led by a strong showing by the ladies in Starkville. They continue playing today against Memphis to complete the weekend, but between Ole Miss and Mississippi State, they nary even dropped a point. The team is well regarded, as they have often been in the past, and are led by a pair of excellent veteran leaders, Kenya Jones and Victoria Flores. The two are both ranked in the top 40 in singles and team up for Tech’s top doubles pairing, who are ranked in the top 5. Jones may have lost her first singles match of the weekend, but bounced back on Sunday. Meanwhile, though, the rest of the roster looks wildly different than it did last year. The freshmen and newer faces on the bottom courts made light work of the Mississippian opponents, which was heartening to see.
Saturday: 2-1 in doubles, 6-1 in singles
Sunday: 2-2 in doubles, 5-3 in singles
Monday: vs. Memphis
Keeping this team as solid as it has been requires a steady influx of new talent, and Tech seems to have struck gold in that regard. Their recruiting class, which was ranked #2 in the country, their best class ever, features Ava Hrastar, a Duluth, GA blue chip recruit (tennis speak for “better than a five star”) and Ruth Marsh, a five star recruit from right here in Atlanta - talk about defending the 404! - and neither of them is the best recruit in the group. That honor goes to Mahak Jain, the second-highest WTT rated player in the class. Carol Lee of the Northern Mariana Islands rounds out the class. That means Coach Harmon was able not only to keep home an Atlanta five star, but he and his staff waded out into the middle of the dang Pacific Ocean to find the best possible talent for their team. Gold star! Very excited to see this class in action throughout the year.
NR Men’s Tennis (1-1 Overall, 1-1 This Week)
The men had more of a mixed bag than the ladies, splitting the weekend so far, but they have at least dispatched one opponent so far this weekend. The first match against South Carolina was tough, as they started things off on the right foot by winning doubles - which is their strong suit this year, if the ITA rankings are to be believed - and then lost a bevy of close sets to drop the singles portion of the match. Things were smooth sailing on Sunday, though, as they swept Georgia Southern in singles and doubles.
Saturday: 3-1 in doubles, 1-6 in singles
Sunday: 3-0 in doubles, 6-0 in singles
Monday: vs. the School in Athens, presumably
Their highly rated 2019 recruiting class is still green, and we didn’t get to see a ton of them before they were shut down in the spring, so it feels like their growth is going to be the primary narrative of the season. Reinforcing this, the oldest player on the team is Brandon Freestone, a redshirt junior. He is their only junior. They added Australian Chen Dong to the team, and much like the ladies’ Jain, he is a well-regarded international in the ITA rankings. Since the class was just him, it wasn’t ranked, but he is a solid pickup for Tech.
Including their Monday opponent, the Jackets will see all of these teams again, so it will be a useful proxy for growth to compare their performances against South Carolina and Athens this weekend to when they are a little more in season.
The men have two days left in Panama City, so I’ll avoid commenting on how their current seventh place position at +5 - Clemson leads at -12 - makes my gut feel. However, it is worth noting that this is their first competition together in ten months, and they’re doing it without their most experienced remaining player, Noah Norton, in a field stacked with 9 other ACC teams. I want to measure some expectations without Andy Ogletree and Tyler Strafaci, though. It might be hard to expect an ACC three-peat out of these guys, let alone title hopes. This might be the biggest “what if” to come out of the shutdown last spring. We’ll circle back to them next week.
Swimming and Diving
Polls - CSCAA M: #17 / W: NR
Nerd Stuff - CAP M: #11 / W: #29
The women’s meet against Vanderbilt got pushed to next week, so it was a half dozen divers in Tallahassee doing the representing of the Tech team this week. There weren’t posted team scores, but Tech was able to rack up a healthy stack of NCAA Zone qualifications, so they continue to notch postseason appearances. This is quite good. The meet in Tallahassee was again hosted at Florida State’s outdoor pool (they have both) as it is the nicer one, and home of the varsity facilities. At meet time, the temperature was 39 degrees with a brisk wind. Honestly, just being on the platforms in barely above freezing temperatures with a biting wind and just a swimsuit to protect from the cold yields a very unique challenge, to say the least, so props to them regardless for braving the elements on their way.
Track and Field
Track was back in Clemson this week. They had one first place finisher, and there wasn’t really complete team stats posted anywhere, or at least anywhere to find a total score, so we can call the first place finish good, and wait to see on the rest for a hopefully more head-to-head matchup for which I can derive some more narratives.
Best of the Week
This Week on the Flats
If there’s any way for you to catch the Alabama-Georgia Tech swim meet this weekend, I would do that. It’ll probably be on ACC Network Extra, given that Tech usually does a good job at making that happen. Both men’s teams are well-regarded, top 25 teams. I’ve been looking forward to this for a while, if not at least for the most apt application of the Alabama fight song in many, many years. We’ll see who’s sending who to a water grave on Friday. It brings back memories of Bobby Dodd accusing Bear Bryant of stashing football players on the swim team, despite their inability to even float to skirt recruiting rules. These are the hidden vagaries of the olden times non-rev world that are so fascinating, yet so hard to come by. Otherwise, it’s the matchup against a very good Clemson men’s basketball team midweek that is at the top of my list. Beware of the Sunday women’s game against Duke - I forgot it was cancelled, since Duke has opted out of the rest of their season. So catch the ladies midweek, too.
Poll of the Week
Preferred Uncommon Sports Setting
This poll is closed
Diving in a Near-Freezing Windstorm
When Sprinklers Come on Mid-Game
Twilight Baseball on a Field Without Lights
I’m Sure There’s Something Else (Comment Below)