The temperature in C-U was in the mid-40s so there wasn’t any doubt about whether the match would be played inside or outside. After having my complementary piece of pizza I walked into the Atkins Tennis Center and within the first 60 seconds I found out that Virginia would be playing without its #1 Ryan Shane. I talked with Ryan for a minute just before doubles and he said he’s had a few things bothering him for a while and it was decided that it would be best to rest until he’s back to 100%. He obviously wanted to be out there playing but at the same time he knew he needed to take care of his body so he could compete at the highest level in the later stages of the season. So Virginia had to retool two of its three doubles pairings and move everyone up a spot in the singles lineup.
Virginia’s #2 doubles team of Thai-Son Kwiatkowski and Mac Styslinger were moved up to #1 while Luca Corinteli, who normally plays at #1 with Shane, was matched up with J.C. Aragone at #2. Aragone normally plays with Collin Altamirano at #3 but Brian Boland decided to sit Altamirano and go with the Jonathan Cornish/Harrison Richmond duo at #3. Cornish and Richmond were 3-0 on the season so it’s not like they’d never played together before.
Virginia’s #3 team of Cornish and Richmond took their first break lead when they broke the Aiden Jiang serve from 15-40 to go 2-1. They’d get a hold for 3-1 before Julian Childers held and then he and Jiang broke to make it 3-3. Jiang held from 40-30 to make it 4-3 Illini but Cornish held quickly to tie it up at 4-4.
Illinois jumped out to the early break lead at #2 when J.C. Aragone double faulted on the deciding point and Aleks Vukic would follow suit with a love hold to put he and Aron Hiltzik up 2-0. UVA’s Luca Corinteli would hold to make it 1-2 and then Aragone would hit a service return winner on the deciding point of Aron Hiltzik’s serve to make it 2-2 (clip on left). After three more holds, Corinteli and Aragone went up 15-40 on Hiltzik’s 3-4 service game but they couldn’t get that last point and the Illini held to make it 4-4 (clip on right).
The match at #1 between Thai-Son Kwiatkowski/Mac Styslinger and Jared Hiltzk/Alex Jesse had a slew of break points early on but neither team could cash in. Styslinger came back from 30-40 down on his 1-1 service game and Kwiatkowski came back from 15-40 down to hold on his 2-2 service game. Jared Hiltzik fought off a break point on his opening service game and I’m pretty sure Alex Jesse faced at least one break point too.
All four matches would be tied at 4-4 but it wouldn’t stay that way for long because Cornish and Richmond broke the Childers serve from 30-40 to go up 5-4. Harrison Richmond would serve it out at love to give Virginia the 6-4 win at #3. (Not the best angle)
Aleks Vukic and Aron Hiltzik broke Luca Coriniteli from 30-40 (clip on left) to go up 6-5 but Aron Hiltzik would be unable to serve it out and would be broke from 30-40 (clip on right) to send it to a tiebreak.
Corinteli and Aragone would go up 4-2 at the changeover, after Vukic pushed a volley long, and then a few points later they’d close out the 7-6(4) win to give Virginia the doubles point and early 1-0 lead.
The match at #1 was abandoned with Virginia leading 6-3 in the tiebreak. Virginia was up 6-2 but Kwiatkowski double faulted, on a foot fault, and before the next point could be played Virginia clinched it at #2.
The crowd of over 700 spread out for the singles point but dropping the doubles point didn’t seem to take the air out of them or the team.
Virginia shifted everyone up a spot in the singles lineup with Luca Corinteli coming off the bench to play at #7 while Illinois switched up Jared Hiltzik and Vukic up top plus brought in Pablo Landa to play at #5.
Jared Hiltzik, Aron Hiltzik, and Pablo Landa jumped out to early break leads at 1, 3, and 5 while J.C. Aragone and Luca Corinteli went up breaks at 4 and 6.
Both Hiltzik brothers would take 6-2 opening sets with Aron (left) holding from 40-30 on an ace while Jared (right) broke from 15-40 when Altamirano put a forehand into the net.
The tiebreak was all one-way traffic as Vukic took it 7-0 – point on the left puts Vukic up 4-0 and the one on the right makes it 7-0.
The match at #4 between J.C. Aragone and Julian Childers would also go to a tiebreak after Childers held on the deciding point to make it 6-6. Aragone got a couple of early mini breaks and put the hammer down and cruised to a 7-0 tiebreak. The point on the left put Aragone up 5-0 and then he made finished it out on the right.
So after an hour of singles play each team had three first sets with Illinois leading at 1, 2, and 3 while Virginia led at 4, 5, and 6.
Jared Hiltzik would put the Illini on the board with a 6-2, 6-3 win over Collin Altamirano at #1 in a match that took 1 hour and 10 minutes.
Roughly 15 minutes later Henrik Wiersholm would put Virginia back ahead after the Virginia sophomore defeated Pablo Landa 6-4, 6-2 at #5. Wiersholm jumped out to a 2-0 lead in the second set before Landa broke and held to make it 2-2. Wiersholm would hold and then break from 15-40 to go up 4-2 and then he’d hit an ace on the deciding point to make it 5-2. Wiersholm went up 15-40 on Landa’s 2-5 service game but Landa would get it back to the deciding point with a pair of thumping forehands. Landa would double fault on the deciding point to end it (clip below).
The action was really starting to heat up as three of the four remaining matches were into a third set plus Aragone and Childers were going toe-to-toe in the second set at #4.
Illinois sophomore Aron Hiltzik dropped the second set to Mac Styslinger at #3 but Hiltzik would break Styslinger to start the third set and then hold on the deciding point (left) to go up 2-0. Hiltzik would have two break points on Styslinger’s 0-2 service game but Mac fought them off (right) to hold for 1-2.
Styslinger would break at love to make it 2-2 and then hold to go up 3-2. Hiltzik held for 3-3 then broke on the deciding point to go up 4-3 (left). Hiltzik held from 40-15 to go up 5-3 (right) before Mac held to make 5-4.
I wanted to stay and get a good angle of Hiltzik’s match point but Vukic was serving for the match at #2 and it looked like he was going to finish first so I started going back and forth between the two courts. Vukic was serving up 5-1, 40-30 in the third but Kwiatkowski broke to stay in it. Seconds later Aron Hiltzik would hold from 40-15 to close out Mac Styslinger 6-2, 2-6, 6-4.
The match was tied at 2-2 but all three remaining matches were nearing the finish line. Vukic had three match points on Kwiatkowski at 15-40, Aragone had a match point up 7-6 on Childers, and Hirsch had two match points up 5-4, 40-30. I started taping Hirsch’s court but when it went to the deciding point I panned over and caught Aragone’s match point and then tried to catch the 15-40 point at #2. In the middle of the point I went back over and caught the end of Hirsch clinching but the Illinois twitter clip shows it better.
Illini M Tennis (@IlliniMTennis) February 28, 2016
So amidst all the hoopla it was now tied at 3-3 and Vukic still had two more match points on the Kwiatkowski serve. I’ll let the video take it away:
Illinois wins it was 4-3 in dramatic fashion and the celebration continued on.
Notes – the third set of the Hirsch/Corinteli match was an absolute break-fest. Hirsch broke go to up 1-0 then Corinteli broke on the deciding point to make it 1-1. Hirsch broke from 30-40 to go up 2-1 but Corinteli broke back at love to make it 2-2. Each player held to make it 3-3 then Hirsch broke for 4-3. Corinteli broke on the deciding point to make it 4-4 but Hirsch broke back for 5-4. Hirsch finally held on the deciding point to win it 6-4.
Below are post-match interviews with Brad Dancer and Aleks Vukic via Illinois and down below the box score is the audio of the interview that I did with Brad.
“We have a group of guys that work so hard and I’m really happy for them and proud of them,” head coach Brad Dancer said. “I give Virginia a lot of credit. Our crowd is amazing here and it’s a really tough place to play. They came in here and fought extremely hard, fighting us tooth and nail. All of our guys were tough today and that’s what I’m proud of.”
While Illinois’s upset over #2 Virginia was huge I don’t think it was nearly as big as #26 Texas going into Winston-Salem and beating #5 Wake Forest.
Texas was just 6-5 going into the match with losses to a pair of schools outside the top 25 while Wake Forest had a program high ranking of #5 and had looked good in just about every match they’d played so far.
This one was played outdoors and it seemed rather windy, at least during the portions I saw on the live stream.
Texas picked up the doubles point with wins at #2 and #3 but Wake Forest bounced back in singles and took four opening sets while Texas managed just two.
Christian Seraphim tied the match at 1-1 with a quick 6-2, 6-1 win over Julian Zlobinksy at #6 and Dennis Uspensky put Wake ahead with a 6-3, 7-5 win over Michael Riechmann at #5. Uspensky actually trailed 5-2 in the second set before winning five straight to close it out.
Skander Mansouri made it 3-1 Deacs after coming from a set behind to beat Harrison Scott 5-7, 6-2, 6-1 at #2 so Wake just need one of the three remaining courts.
Texas’s George Goldhoff pulled off the upset at #1 by defeating highly touted Wake Forest freshman Petro Chrysochos 6-2, 5-7, 7-6(5) in a match where Goldhoff was serving 4-4, 0-40 in the third.
Texas sophomore Adrian Ortiz tied it at 3-3 with a come from behind 3-6, 7-6(2), 7-6(3) win over Wake senior Romain Bogarets.
|Rodrigo Banzer (TexasSports)|
In the last match on court it’d be Texas freshman Rodrigo Banzer coming from behind as well to beat Wake senior Jon Ho 6-7(4), 7-5, 7-6(4).
Texas won the last three matches in third set tiebreaks and they did it on the road – unbelievable.
Stanford was back at it on Saturday afternoon playing Pac-12 rival #4 UCLA less than 24 hours after the Cardinal played USC. Just as it had done against USC, Stanford managed to take the doubles point after picking up wins at #2 and #3.
Each team would pick up three first sets with Mackenzie McDonald, Karue Sell, and Logan Staggs taking them for UCLA at 1, 4, and 5 while Stanford got first sets from David Wilczynski, Nolan Paige, and Michael Genender at 2, 3, and 6.
UCLA’s Karue Sell was off the court in just under an hour with a 6-2, 6-2 win over Sameer Kumar at #4 and then roughly 20 minutes later Mackenzie McDonald made it 2-1 Bruins when he defeated Tom Fawcett 6-3, 7-5 at #1 singles. Here are some highlights of that match via JayK1225’s Youtube page:
Martin Redlicki put UCLA ahead 3-1 with a 3-6, 6-1, 6-1 win over David Wilczynski at #2 but Stanford wouldn’t go away quietly. Michael Genender returned after sitting out yesterday and rolled over Joseph Di Giulio 6-1, 6-4 at #6. Nolan Paige earned a nice 7-5, 6-4 win over Gage Brymer at #3 though it took a little longer for Paige to close it out after he led 4-1 in the second. Brymer held for 2-4, then came back from 15-40 down to break for 3-4, and then held again to make it 4-4. Paige finally righted the ship and held and then broke Brymer to close it out.
The final match on court was at #5 between UCLA sophomore, and recent Northwestern transfer, Logan Staggs and Stanford senior Maciek Romanowicz. Staggs had dropped four of his previous five while Romanowicz had won four of his previous five. Staggs got the upper hand early on by taking the opening set 6-4 then he’d break Romanowicz to go up 5-3 in the second. Staggs went up 40-30 but Romanowicz hit a nice backhand overhead to bring up the deciding point. Staggs was in control of the deciding point but a slice brought Romanowicz to the net. Romanowicz was in position to hit the volley but Staggs put a little too much spin on his backhand and Romanowicz went into the net and that it. Here are highlights of the finish of the match courtesy of JayK
#4 UCLA 4, #29 Stanford 3
“My match was a back-and-forth battle, said Staggs. “We weren’t playing great. But the fact that the match came down to me was a great feeling, especially because it’s my first year as a Bruin.
#9 Oklahoma State picked up its second top 15 win of the season after it beat #14 South Florida 4-1. It looked South Florida would claim the doubles point after picking up a 6-0 win at #3 and leading 4-1 at #1 and 4-2 at #2. Oklahoma State’s Arjun Kadhe and Julian Cash won the next five games at #1 to take it 6-4 and then its #2 team of Temur Ismailov and Lucas Gerch got the match back on serve and then won the tiebreak 7-0 to give the Cowboys the early 1-0 lead.
South Florida’s Dominic Cotrone, its #2 singles player, didn’t play (reasons unknown) so everyone from #3 to #7 had to shift up a spot in the lineup.
Oklahoma State’s Lukas Finzelberg made it 2-0 Pokes with a double bagel win over Everth Dzib at #6. It was Dzib’s first dual-match of the season and he was only in the lineup due to both Cotrone (14.32) and usual #6 Vadym Kalyuzyhnyy (13.31) sitting out.
|Arjun Kadhe (Oklahoma State)|
Cowboy freshman Temur Ismailov made it 3-0 with a sound 6-3, 6-3 win over Sasha Gozun at #2.
South Florida senior Roberto Cid gave the Bulls its only point with a a 6-4, 6-3 win over Julian Cash 6-4, 6-3 at #1.
Arjun Kadhe would clinch the win with a 6-2, 7-5 win over Justin Roberts at #4 and Oklahoma State would finish the weekend in Montgomery as the only undefeated team of the six participants.
Due to the number of teams playing this year, six as opposed to eight, the official Blue Gray Championship came down to just doubles between Oklahoma State and Alabama. They played 8-game pro sets with Alabama’s Korey Lovett/Mazen Osama winning 8-6 at #1 while its #3 team of Matthew Rossouw/Spencer Richeyended won 8-5. Since singles was not played it does NOT go in the record books as an official match.
#9 Oklahoma State 4, #14 South Florida 1
Baylor had dropped four of its previous five but the Bears got back into the win column on Saturday with a 4-0 win over #17 Memphis.
The doubles point was decided in a pair of tiebreaks with Baylor just needing one of the two. BU’s #2 team of Felipe Rios and Will Little clinched the point with a 7-6(6) win over Ryan Peniston and Felix Rauch.
Baylor picked up five first sets and Julian Lenz, Felipe Rios, and Jimmy Bendeck each finished in straights to give the Bears a rather routine win over a top 20 Memphis team.
What was expected to be a close one turned into a Gator runaway as Florida steamrolled instate rival Florida State 7-0. Florida State looked like it might pull out the doubles point after winning 6-1 at #1 and leading 5-3 at #2 but Florida’s Maxx Lipman and Elliott Orkin fought back to win the final four games to take it 7-5. Florida clinched the doubles point when Alfredo Perez and Chase Perez-Blanco won 6-4 at #3.
The teams split first sets with Florida’s Diego Hidalgo, Gordon Watson, and McClain Kessler each winning in straight sets to give Florida the win. They played the remaining three matches out and Florida would take all three with Elliott Orkin, Chase Perez-Blanco, and Alfredo Perez each winning in a third set supertiebreak to finish off the 7-0 win.
#41 Florida 7, #35 Florida State 0