UCLA junior Mackenzie McDonald and Virginia senior Danielle Collins both cruised to straight set wins in the finals of the NCAA Singles Championships on an overcast Memorial Day in Tulsa, Oklahoma (Photos Courtesy of Bill Kallenberg/Captured In Action).
McDonald entered the tournament with an ITA ranking of No. 6 and was also the No. 6 seed while Torpegaard came in as the top ranked and top seeded player. McDonald was seeking to become the 12th Bruin in school history to win the NCAA Men’s Singles Title while Mikael Torpegaard was trying to become the 2nd Buckeye to achieve the grand feat.
Torpegaard got off to a good start by breaking McDonald on the deciding point to go up 1-0 but McDonald broke back on the deciding point to even it at 1-1. McDonald would hold for 2-1 and then break for 3-1 and then it’d be five straight holds to close out the opening set which went to McDonald by a 6-3 score. McDonald broke Torpegaard to start the second set and then held for 2-0. It would be all holds up until the final game which saw McDonald break Torpegaard on the deciding point to win it 6-3, 6-3.
“It feels unbelievable. I’ve always dreamed of this moment and to actually have the trophy in my hands it’s pretty surreal. It’s an unbe- lievable feeling and I’m really thankful to be here.
On mentality going into the match…
“He broke me the first game on a deuce point, but then I got myself together, made a couple more balls, and I found my game plan as I progressed through the match. I think points opened up for me. I played pretty well into my strengths and took care of business. I played percentage tennis and played the way I actually would like to play.
On if it was as easy as it looked…
“No, he’s a great player and has had an unbelievable season. There were a lot of deuce games and I had to stay mentally tough. I think I definitely got the upper hand on more of those deuce games, but he really pushed me and I stay there, because easily he could have gotten back into the set.
On refocusing for the doubles championship later today at 4 pm…
“I’m sure Marti (doubles partner Martin Redlicki) is going to be on me. I want this just as bad as he wants it. We want to get that dou- bles title. We’re going to do the things we need to do, go back to the hotel and get ready for that doubles match in a couple of hours.
#6  Mackenzie McDonald (UCLA) def. #1  Mikael Torpegaard (Ohio St.) 6-3, 6-3
Previous NCAA Men’s Singles Champions from UCLA:
Jack Tidball (1933), Herb Flam (1950), Larry Nagler (1960), Allen Fox (1961), Arthur Ashe (1965), Charles Pasarell (1966), Jeff Borowiak (1970), Jimmy Connors (1971), Billy Martin (1975), Benjamin Kohlloeffel (2006), Marcos Giron (2014)
It was No. 1 versus No. 2 on the women’s side as No. 1 Hayley Carter took on No. 2 Danielle Collins.
Collins, a Virginia senior, was trying to win her second NCAA singles title in the last three years while Carter, a North Carolina junior, was trying to make it two in a row for North Carolina after Jamie Loeb won it a year ago. Carter and Collins were meeting for the fourth time this season with Carter winning the only previous meeting that finished.
Collins jumped out to a single break 3-0 lead in the opening set but Carter won the next three to even it at 3-3. Collins held for 4-3, broke for 5-3, and then served out the opening set to take it 6-3. Collins broke to go up 2-1 in the second and then would break again to go up 4-1. After an exchange of holds Collins would serve it out on the deciding point to win it 6-3, 6-2.
On mindset having previously facing Hayley Carter multiple times…
“Hayley is such a tough competitor and as you guys can probably tell she gets every ball back and never gives up. So a lot of the matches that we’ve played in the past have been really close, she’s beaten me a couple times and I’ve beaten her a couple times so I knew it was going to be a really tough match and I was going to have to play my absolute best to beat her. She wasn’t going to give me any free points so going out there I had to focus and concentrate so hard every point, especially with how many balls she was getting back. I just really had to tap into my focus a lot differently than maybe I would’ve had to in other matches just because of how tough she really is.
On approaching Carter who’s repetitively dropped the first set then battled back the last two sets to win…
“Well the last two matches I played I had an issue where I would be up in my sets and the other person would come back and get it even for a while so today when I went on the court I was like not today alright’. She did come back in the first set, I was up 3-0 then she got it back 3 all. Then going into the second set I thought well she’s going to start doing something different because she’s down’ so I just kind of had to expect it but I really didn’t want to let her in and get her momentum going in her direction.
On difference being a national champion before in 2014 and now a two-time champ today…
“I feel like it’s harder winning it a second time than it is the first time. The first time I was in my second year and I wasn’t seeded. My first year at Florida I didn’t really play a ton and I was playing lower in the lineup. Nobody really expected me to win it in 2014 so I didn’t really have much pressure on me going into the tournament but this tournament, in some people’s book, I was the favorite to win or I was predicted to get to the finals and so there was that added pressure just because of winning it before. I just took it one match at a time and knew that regardless of the outcome I’ve worked hard enough and luckily have had a lot of success in my college career to where regardless of the outcome I would’ve ended a successful career and been all good.
On this second championship being sweeter than the first…
“Yeah, I think so. I think mentally it was a lot tougher to win this one but I did it and I don’t really know how at this point as it’s kind of a blur. It’s pretty sweet to go out winning a national championship again to end my career. I’m just very fortunate.
Collins becomes the seventh two-time singles champion joining the following players (Patty Fendick, Stanford (1986, 1987), Sandra Birch, Stanford (1989, 1991), Lisa Raymond, Florida (1992, 1993), Laura Granville, Stanford (2000, 2001), Amber Liu, Stanford (2003, 2004), and Nicole Gibbs, Stanford (2012-2013))
#2  Danielle Collins (Virginia) def. #1  Hayley Carter (North Carolina) 6-3, 6-2