The opening day of the NCAA Tournament is in the books and as you can see from the scores below there were a few surprises. All the top seeds cruised with only Illinois yielding a point while a pair of 33-48 seeds pulled off mild upsets.
Friday Finals:  UCLA def. Weber State 4-0  TCU def. Jackson State 4-0  Wake Forest def. Coastal Carolina 4-0  USC def. UNLV 4-0  Oklahoma def. UT Arlington 4-0  Texas A&M def. George Washington 4-0  Illinois def. Western Michigan 4-1 [17-32] Texas def. Lamar 4-0 [17-32] San Diego def. Vanderbilt 4-0 [17-32] Michigan def. East Tennessee State 4-3 [17-32] Georgia Tech def. UC Santa Barbara 4-1 [17-32] Mississippi State def. Memphis 4-1 [33-48] LSU def. Rice 4-3 [33-48] Oregon def. Tulsa 4-1
The match of the day on the men’s side took place in Fort Worth between LSU and Rice. Rice won the regular season meeting 4-3 but LSU flipped the script today and won a 4-3 thriller.
Rice won the doubles point with 6-3 wins at No. 1 and No. 2 and then the Owls also took four opening sets in singles. Despite falling behind LSU would quickly turn things around and would put the first two singles points on the board. Justin Butsch won the only straight set match of the day with a 6-4, 6-1 win over Jamie Malik at No. 2 and then Gabor Csonka would put the Tigers ahead with a 1-6, 6-1, 6-4 win over Adam Gustafsson at No. 3.
Rice’s Tommy Bennett would even the match at 2-2 with a 6-1, 2-6, 7-5 win over Jordan Daigle at No. 1. Rice freshman Jake Hansen would put the Owls ahead 3-2 with a come from behind win over Andrew Korinek at No. 4. Korinek led 5-2 in third set but Hansen battled back to force a tiebreak which he ultimately took 7-1.
LSU freshman Nikola Samardzic, who joined the team in January, tied the match at 3-3 with a 7-6, 6-7, 6-1 win over Emanuel Llamas at No. 6.
Boris Arias (Photo By Kyle Zedaker/LSU)
The match would be decided in a third set at No. 5 between LSU senior Boris Arias and Rice junior David Warren. Warren led 4-2 in the final set but Arias managed to hold, break, and hold to go up 5-4. Warren held and then broke to go up 6-5 but Arias would break back to force a tiebreak. Warren led 4-1 in the tiebreak but Arias won the next two points on his own serve and then a third straight point on Warren’s serve to tie it at 4-4. Warren held for 5-4 and then Arias won both points on his serve for 6-5. Warren evened it at 6-6 but Arias would take the next two to clinch it 8-6.
Next up LSU will face TCU after the Horned Frogs routed Jackson State 4-0. #36 LSU 4, #26 Rice 3
May 13, 2016 at Fort Worth, Texas (Bayard H. Friedman Tennis Center)
1. Tommy Bennett (RICE) def. #44 Jordan Daigle (LSU) 6-1, 2-6, 7-5
“It was a great college tennis match, Head Coach Jeff Brown said. “Fortunately for us, we had Boris who has been very clutch through the years. It hasn’t been his best year so for him to get back to doing that again was great to see and was a great match to be a part of.
Coach Brown commented on the three-week layoff between the SEC Tournament and NCAAs, which LSU was able to recover from after starting slow and dropping the doubles point.
“I felt that the three week layoff was really showing in doubles and the beginning of singles, Brown said. “For about an hour and 20 minutes of the match we were in a lot of trouble but we got in the rhythm and started getting back in it.
“We are hopeful that the SEC will change that and only have a two-week break between the conference tournament and NCAA Tournament. I think that really has been a big issue for us over the years and it was good that the guys were able to overcome that and be a part of a great match.
“TCU has had a great year, Brown said. “We look forward to getting back out tomorrow there and improving from what we did today.
“Unbelievable college tennis match, Rice head coach Efe Ustundag said. “This is what we train for and dream of being a part of as coaches. (It’s) the first round of the NCAA Championship and every single player left it all out on the court. Five singles matches went three sets. It just doesn’t get any better than that, he added.
“I am really proud of being the coach of these guys, Ustundag said. “I felt they represented Rice really, really well out here today. I am really fired up about what this team has achieved this year. We met our goals for this year and we set some high standards going into next year and really brought some excitement back to Rice tennis.
#4 TCU 4, Jackson State 0
May 13, 2016 at Fort Worth, Texas (Bayard H. Friedman Tennis Center)
“Our guys were very business-like and took care of business today. I am proud of them for playing well and doing everything they can to win every single point. I congratulate Jackson State and head coach Lois Alexis for making it the NCAA Championship. It is something that is very hard to do and they deserve a lot of credit. I hope their team had a great experience and we did our best to create the best atmosphere possible so it was a memorable day for them.
“For us, it is now time to get ready for the other tigers the LSU Tigers. They won a really tough match earlier today and they are very match tough. They go through a whole season in the SEC and will be ready to battle. We are right where we want to be and our team is excited to keep the streak going here at home and also give us the best chance at seeing what we can do. Regardless of what goes on, I am very proud of this team. They have accomplished so much not only on the court, but also in the classroom.
“I also want to thank our athletic department and our financial aid office as they were also here today. I really want to thank Mike Scott for bringing out the whole office because it was a really beautiful day. Huge thanks to Mr. Del Conte for allowing the athletic department to come out and support us. It has been a pleasure and an honor to play in front of our fans all season and we have one more tomorrow.
Oregon, which was the No. 3 seed in the Oklahoma regional, won it’s first-ever NCAA Tournament match with a surprisingly straight forward 4-1 win over Tulsa.
Oregon won the doubles point for the 21st time in 24 tries by winning at No. 1 and No. 2 and then the Ducks took four opening sets in singles. Tulsa’s Or Ram-Harel evened the match at 1-1 with a straight set win at No. 1 however Oregon would take over from there.
Ethan Young-Smith and Cormac Clissold won in straight sets at No. 6 and No. 5 and Thomas Laurent clinched the match with a 6-4, 7-5 win over Majed Kilani at No. 3.
Interesting note from Oregon’s recap – Simon Stevens was up 4-2 in the second set tiebreak when Juan Matias Gonzalez got a third overrule which resulted in a point penalty which gave Stevens the tiebreak.
#38 Oregon 4, #23 Tulsa 1
Friday, May 13 | Norman, Okla. | Headington Family Tennis Center
Nils Schyllander, Head Coach – “I felt that these guys came here to win and they did just that. The preparation was awesome and it paid off as it was an unbelievable match. This was a good time to play our best match of the year.”
Oklahoma got all it wanted in doubles but then cruised through singles and defeated UT Arlington 4-0. Axel Alvarez, Spencer Papa, and Andre Biro each won in straight sets while OU led on each of the remaining courts as well. Andrew Harris played in doubles but he did not play in singles.
“Doubles was close and we pulled it out, head coach John Roddick said. “Singles was just pretty solid. We lost a couple breaks here or there, but mostly it was just deuce points. All in all our guys did a good job of taking care of business. It was a good effort to be focused and disciplined. We’re looking forward to tomorrow.
“It looked like he was in control and making good decisions, Roddick said. “That’s his biggest thing is making good decisions all the time. He is hitting the ball well, hitting good pace and spin, so that was a very good effort on his part.
“They were obviously excited after their match, Roddick said. “I watched a good bit of it. They are playing for a lot for them so they are going to come out with a lot of energy. So will we. They may be as fired up as any team we’ve faced all year so it’ll be a tough match.
“It is the highest level of competition, for us to be exposed to this and this environment is huge,” UT Arlington coach Diego Benitez said. “There aren’t too many days we get to compete at this level. We are going to take it in and learn. We were playing against a Top-10 team that is going to have a chance to win the national championship. Competing against them in the way we did says a lot about our team.”
“They never give up and refuse to lose,” Benitez said. “It doesn’t matter what part of the match they are in, they stay focused and determined.”
For junior Mario Muniesa, the UTA match clincher during the Sun Belt Championship, the experience gave the Mavs a chance to compete on the biggest stage as they improve from year to year.
“This was one of the greatest seasons, not only for me, but for the program,” Muniesa said. “After two years of struggling to get to the finals, we got to the championship, won it and got here. We did everything we could and we will be proud of ourselves for a great season.”
“We learned how to compete and not show that much respect to the better teams ranking wise. We saw that we could have beat them; we almost did in doubles. We didn’t give up and we gave everything we had. They beat us, probably because they were better, but not because we gave up.”
Texas gave Lamar an early kick to the gut and then finished them off with a few roundhouses in route to a 4-0 win in the opening match of the Texas A&M regional.
The Longhorns won all nine completed sets in singles with George Goldhoff, Adrian Ortiz, and Michael Riechmann each winning in straight sets.
Next up for Texas will be a Lone Star Showdown against Texas A&M after the Aggies blanked George Washington 4-0. #18 Texas 4, #56 Lamar 0 May 13, 2016 at College Station, TX (George P Mitchell Tennis Center) Singles Competition 1. George Goldhoff (UT) def. Michael Feucht (LAMAR) 6-4, 6-3 2. Adrian Ortiz (UT) def. Nikita Lis (LAMAR) 7-5, 6-2 3. Harrison Scott (UT) vs. Benny Schweizer (LAMAR) 6-4, 5-2, unfinished 4. Rodrigo Banzer (UT) vs. Sebastian Santibanez (LAMAR) 6-3, 2-5, unfinished 5. Michael Riechmann (UT) def. Jeandre Hoogenboezem (LAMAR) 6-4, 6-4 6. Julian Zlobinsky (UT) vs. Juuso Laitinen (LAMAR) 7-6 (7-3), 4-3, unfinished Doubles Competition 1. George Goldhoff/Michael Riechmann (UT) vs. Michael Feucht/Benny Schweizer (LAMAR) 4-4 2. Adrian Ortiz/Julian Zlobinsky (UT) def. Jeandre Hoogenboezem/Nikita Lis (LAMAR) 6-2 3. John Mee/Harrison Scott (UT) def. Juuso Laitinen/Sebastian Santibanez (LAMAR) 6-2 Match Notes: Lamar 17-6; National ranking #56 Texas 18-11; National ranking #18 Order of finish: Doubles (2,3); Singles (1,5,2) NCAA First Round College Station Regional T-1:51
Post-Match Quotes from head coach Michael Center via Texas’s recap
The guys won all six first sets (in singles), and we played better in some spots and put pressure on them (Lamar). We did a good job to finish the match. This was a good day against a Lamar team that had a great season. Lamar won a conference championship and beat a top-25 team in Rice. It was a great year for Lamar.
We’re happy to keep going (to the second round). We don’t know who we’re playing tomorrow but we assume it will be Texas A&M. We’ve had a lot of great matches over the years and some tough matches over here (in College Station). I expect another tough match tomorrow. We’ve got a young group, but one thing they’ve been good at all year is being good competitors. We’ll do that again tomorrow and do our best to compete well.
“Texas played great today,” said LU head coach Scott Shankles. “They got out to great starts on courts two and three, and they got the breaks at a good time for them. Then they held on to win the doubles point, and we just couldn’t get back into it in those matches. I thought we were solid on court one.
“In singles, we dropped the first set on all six courts, but they were all close. We were right there with them but just couldn’t get enough points to get the lead. Our guys fought hard and I’m very proud of how we competed,” said Shankles.
“This experience will be huge for our guys next year,” said Shankles. “We return all but two players so this will be a valuable experience as we move forward. We accomplished a lot of things this season but I don’t want our guys to just be content with this year. We can’t get complacent. We need to continue to get better.”
#12 Texas A&M 4, George Washington 0
May 13, 2016 at College Station, TX (Mitchell Tennis Center)
1. #18 Arthur Rinderknech (TAMU) vs. Julius Tverijonas (GW) 6-3, 3-2, unfinished
“We were down a break at three and were at 4-5 at one, George Washington played well in the doubles and it’s the NCAA tournament. Everybody is going to give you your best shot. Our guys were resilient and able to turn a couple of those matches around. The doubles are a sprint and you have to value each point, with no ad scoring. Our guys have to come up with shots at important moments and thankfully the guys were able to do that today.”
On today’s match as a whole
“George Washington played well, I thought they were good in a lot off spots and played great. In the tournament you obviously want to win the matches and fairly comfortably if possible, but you want to be challenged as well. Today was good, some of our guys were challenged and they responded how we needed them to.”
On playing Texas tomorrow
“Texas is going to fight, they are a scrappy group, a young group. They have lost some matches this year, but they compete really hard in all spots of their lineup. Texas has no holes in their lineup and we are going to have our hands full. We are going to have to have our ‘A’ game and hopefully all these tough matches we’ve played throughout the year will help us. When Texas A&M and Texas play, throw the win loss record out the window, it will be an emotional match. There is a lot on the line not just playing against your rival, but also trying to get to Tulsa. We played here a couple years ago, before we went to Illinois. It was a 4-3, last match on the court type of match so I anticipate another hard fought match and we know the guys will be ready to play.”
“Texas A&M is obviously the 12-seed for a reason, said Atlantic 10 Coach of the Year Torrie Browning. “They are a very good team and poised to go far. I was really proud of the way our guys came out in doubles, making the sets close. But, we really couldn’t execute on a couple of key points. It hasn’t been the easiest season but I’m still really proud of the way our team fought and the way we finished up.
“It means a lot to represent your school, and playing in a national championship team format is always a privilege,” said Browning. “I know our guys really worked hard this year. We did a really good job of just getting here. Really proud of the way we made it through everything and handled adversity.
San Diego defeated Vanderbilt for the second time this season with a 4-0 win in the opening match of the UCLA regional. Vanderbilt was playing without Cameron Klinger (injury?), who plays No. 3 singles (17-8) and #1 dubs with Rhys Johnson (18-8), and his absence was definitely felt.
San Diego’s Uros Petronijevic and Filip Vittek beat Vandy’s usual No. 2 doubles team 6-3 at No. 1 while Alexandros Araouzos and Jaan Kononov clinched the doubles point with a 6-3 win at No. 3.
San Diego took five of six first sets and Jordan Angus, Filip Vittek, and Romain Kalaydjian each won in straight sets with Vittek clinching at No. 3.
#28 San Diego 4, #34 Vanderbilt 0
May 13, 2016 at Los Angeles, CA (Sunset Canyon Tennis Courts)
1. #65 Uros Petronijevic (USD) vs. #36 Daniel Valent (VANDY) 7-5, 6-7 (5-7), 0-1, unfinished
2. #71 Jordan Angus (USD) def. Rhys Johnson (VANDY) 6-2, 6-3
UCLA didn’t have any trouble with Weber State in the second match of the day at the UCLA regional. The Bruins took the doubles point with 6-1 wins at No. 1 and No. 2 and then they added five first sets in singles. Mackenzie McDonald, Karue Sell, and Logan Staggs each won in straight sets with Staggs clinching the match at No. 5.
Nice performance from Weber State’s Stefan Cooper who led Gage Brymer 6-3, 5-2 at No. 3.
#2 UCLA 4, Weber State 0
May 13, 2016 at Los Angeles, CA (Sunset Canyon Tennis Courts)
“I was really happy with what I saw today from the team,” said UCLA head coach Billy Martin. “Up and down the line in both singles and doubles everybody looked really eager to get back into competition. I felt that the team was energized and ready to play,”
“We’re going to have a much tougher match tomorrow against San Diego,” added Martin. “I feel they are a very good team that has had an incredible end to the season. I know their confidence is high and they are going to want to avenge their loss to us earlier in the year. But I also feel that if we play well, we will have a great chance to win.”
“Obviously UCLA is very good and in theory they should beat us,” Director of Tennis Brad Ferreira said. ” We competed well at a couple of spots. Our number three doubles was doing very well. Stefan Cooper was one serve game away from winning his match over a highly ranked player. Hou-En Chen played a very good first set while Todd Fought played a very good second set. It is exciting to see our two returners compete very well.”
“This was a fantastic season and we will be sad to see our seniors go but I am excited to see the continued success of our program,” Ferreira said.
The second most exciting match of the day took place in Winston-Salem with Michigan winning a back and forth 4-3 match against East Tennessee State.
Michigan won what turned out to be a pivotal doubles point when Alex Knight and Runhao Hua won the final three games to take the decider at No. 1 by a 7-5 score.
The Buccaneers bounced back in singles and grabbed four opening sets, two in tiebreaks, but Michigan would put the next point on the board when Carter Lin rolled over Diego Nunez 6-3, 6-1 at No. 3. ETSU’s David Biosca trimmed the deficit to 2-1 with a 7-5, 6-4 win over Alex Knight at No. 1 and then Robert Herrera evened it at 2-2 with a 4-6, 6-1, 6-4 win over Runhao Hua at No. 3.
Rogerio Ribeiro put ETSU up 3-2 with a 6-3, 6-7, 6-2 win over Jathan Malik at No. 2 but that’d be the last point that the Bucs could muster.
Michigan’s Davis Crocker broke Ismael Merino to close out a 6-7, 6-4, 7-5 win at No. 6 and less than 10 seconds later Kevin Wong would clinch it with a 6-7, 6-4, 6-3 win over Sebastian Yllera at No. 5.
Michigan Celebration (Pic from Michigan)
#24 Michigan 4, #55 East Tennessee State 3
May 13, 2016 at Winston-Salem, N.C. (Wake Forest Tennis Complex)
1. #80 David Biosca (ETSU) def. Alex Knight (MICH) 7-5, 6-4
“It was a hell of a college tennis match, remarked ETSU Head Coach Yaser Zaatini. “We gave it all we had and came up just short. The loss leaves a huge empty spot in our gut but I wouldn’t have it any other way. Our boys represented ETSU with the highest sense of pride and love. If we had to lose, this is the way wanted it.
Next up for Michigan will be a match against Wake Forest after the Demon Deacons rolled over Coastal Carolina 4-0. Wake took the doubles point and Petros Chrysochos, Jon Ho, and Dennis Uspensky each won in straight sets.
Wake’s No. 4 Romain Bogaerts did not play.
#6 Wake Forest 4, Coastal Carolina 0
May 13, 2016 at Winston-Salem, N.C. (Wake Forest Tennis Complex)
UC Santa Barbara jumped out to the early lead by taking the doubles point but Georgia Tech rebounded in singles. Chris Eubanks, Nathan Rakitt, and Michael Kay won in straight sets while Daniel Yun came back from a set down to defeat Anders Holm at No. 4.
Head Coach Kenny Thorne SAYS “We got out played for about an hour and a half. I’m not sure if it was because we haven’t played in a while and still had exams on the brain. Credit UCSB, who has a talented team, for starting very strong. The character of our team surfaced and we fought back strong. Chris, Mike and Nathan did a great job of capturing the momentum with straight-set wins. We settled in nicely as a team and played with poise down the stretch. Carlos and Daniel fought back from first-set losses. Cole also was in a good position in his second set after losing the first. Daniel clinched it for us, so all that matters is we move on to the next round. We’re looking forward to a strong start tomorrow and the opportunity to advance.
USC moved on to the second round with a 4-0 win over UNLV. USC took the doubles point and then picked up three quick straight set wins with Rob Bellamy clinching the match with a 6-2, 6-2 win at No. 6.
“We lost a very close doubles point and then started out slowly in singles, said UNLV head coach Owen Hambrook. “However, we were very much alive in all of the matches that didn’t finish so I think we acquitted ourselves well today. The future of UNLV tennis is certainly bright with everyone coming back and we are excited for next season. ____________________________________________________________
Both of the top two seeds won in Champaign with the host Illini fighting off Western Michigan 4-1 while Mississippi State got past Memphis 4-1.
#21 Mississippi State 4, #42 Memphis 1
May 13, 2016 at Urbana, Ill. (Kahn Outdoor Tennis Complex)
1. Andrew Watson (MEMPHIS) def. Mate Cutura (MSU) 6-1, 6-3
2. Rishab Agarwal (MSU) vs. Ryan Peniston (MEMPHIS) 5-7, 4-3, unfinished
3. Nuno Borges (MSU) def. Kai Lemke (MEMPHIS) 6-4, 6-4
4. Niclas Braun (MSU) def. Chris Patzanovsky (MEMPHIS) 6-4, 6-3
5. Strahinja Rakic (MSU) vs. Felix Rauch (MEMPHIS) 7-6 (7-4), 2-3, unfinished
6. Luka Sucevic (MSU) def. Shakeel Manji (MEMPHIS) 6-4, 6-3
“We had seven guys that have never played in the NCAAs before today’s match, head coach Matt Roberts said. “I was impressed how they battled and stepped up to win the doubles point over a tough Memphis team. That gave us a lot of energy going into singles which helped our confidence.
“The result in doubles helped us carry energy into singles, Sucevic said following his 10th singles win of the season. “I felt great from the beginning of singles after the doubles win, just like the other guys, and that helped us get this win today.
For Borges the win came after the freshman missed most of practice during the two weeks leading up to the NCAA Championship due to injury. Borges let his opponent creep back into the match at 4-4 in the second set, but the freshman would find his composure and come away with a 6-4, 6-4 win against Kai Lemke.
“The story of this match was how much Nuno stepped up for us, Roberts said. “He was uncertain if he was going to play today, but he dug deep and came through for us. I am proud of the way he fought today.
“These two/three seed matchups can always go either way, it comes down to a couple of points,” Head Coach Paul Goebel said. “We were right there. In doubles, I don’t know that we played our best, and we still had a chance right down to the last point.”
“That one point comes down to one court, and we had some match points that we saved, but credit to Mississippi State, they were able to come through,” Goebel said. “But once again, a lot of learning points and a bright future for us.”
“I don’t think we were just satisfied getting in, they really wanted to win,” Goebel said. “We gave ourselves some chances, but we just didn’t play maybe our greatest match of the year. But we really overcame some adversity. We had a couple of guys overcome some injuries and we weren’t sure they were even going to play, but to see them go out there and fight every point was good.
“Today, unfortunately, we didn’t win against a very good SEC, top 25 team. We’re going to set some very high goals for next year and hope to be back.”
#15 Illinois 4, Western Michigan 1
May 13, 2016 at Champaign, IL (Atkins Tennis Center)
“Down at five and six singles, those are areas for us that haven’t been stellar throughout the year. I think it’s great for those guys near the bottom of the lineup to have that confidence and lead our team today to victory,” head coach Brad Dancer said. “For us, we’re excited for a great match and great challenge tomorrow and I’m sure the crowd will have a big part to do with it.”
“I thought it was a great environment for a collegiate tennis match, both fan bases were really into it, Head coach Dave Morin said. “We really played well and got off to a great start in doubles and that carried over into the singles. It was much closer than the 4-1 score would indicate. This is something that we can build on going into next year as we continue to pursue the goal of advancing in the NCAA Tournament.