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It’s not uncommon for a No. 2 seed to knock out a host during the Kick-Off Weekend but when the No. 2 seed is Utah State and the No. 1 is TCU the idea of Utah State pulling it off was something that few outside of Logan could have ever imagined. TCU, which finished last year ranked 57 spots higher than Utah State, came into the match riding a 31-match home court winning streak while Utah State was only participating in a Kick-Off Weekend regional for the second time in school history. The Aggies, led by first-year head coach James Wilson, got off to a slow start in doubles after TCU jumped out to early break leads at No. 1 and No. 2. TCU’s Jerry Lopez and Reese Stalder only needed 20 minutes to win 6-0 at No. 1 but the other two courts would tighten up with Utah State breaking back at No. 2 while No. 3 also went back and forth. TCU’s No. 2 team of Alex Rybakov and Guillermo Nunez retook the break at 5-3 and then Rybakov served it out to win 6-3 which gave TCU the doubles point and early 1-0 lead. 

As was the case on Saturday, TCU was playing without its top singles player Cameron Norrie, due to Norrie making a run to the semis at the Maui Challenger, so everyone moved up a spot in the lineup. TCU came out of the gates strong in the top of the lineup while Utah State looked superior at the bottom half. Utah State’s Jonas Maier tied the match at 1-1 with a 6-0, 6-1 win at No. 6 in a match that took 45 minutes and then less than two minutes later they’d have the lead after the injury bug bit TCU yet again. TCU’s Guillermo Nunez jumped out to a 5-2 lead against Jack Swindells at No. 2 but after dropping five straight games Nunez was forced to retire with an injured wrist. The Utah State lead was short lived because Alex Rybakov would tie the match at 2-2 with a 6-0, 6-1 at No. 1 and then 15 minutes later Jerry Lopez would put TCU back in front with a 6-1, 6-3 win at No. 3. 

The match would be decided at No. 4 and No. 5 and both would go back and forth over the course of the next 75 minutes. Utah State freshman Sergiu Bucur took the first set at No. 4 by a 6-1 score but TCU sophomore Reese Stalder earned the split after he took the final three games of the second set to take it 6-4. The third set stayed on serve until Stalder broke for 4-3 but Bucur broke back and held for 5-4. After a Stadler hold for 5-5, Becur would hold and then break to win it 6-1, 4-6, 7-5. 

Utah State was in better shape than they were a few minutes earlier but they weren’t out of the woods yet because sophomore Samuel Serrano was down a set and a break to TCU senior Trey Daniel at No. 5 singles. Daniel had come back from 3-5 down in the first set to take it in a tiebreak and then he broke Serrano to start the second set. Serrano broke right back, held, and then broke again to go up 3-1 however Daniel would do the exact same thing to go up a break at 4-3. Daniel was just two games away from pulling it out but then he started to cramp and Serrano would seize the opportunity and win the final nine games to clinch Utah State’s first-ever trip to the National Team Indoor Championships.

Note: Daniel wasn’t on the team during the fall and just recently rejoined due to TCU’s depth issues.   



Utah State Team TCU Upset 

Post-Match Quotes from Utah State’s recap
“What an unbelievable effort from these guys,” said USU head coach James Wilson, “They deserve it. All the hard work they’ve put in from day one paid off today. They out-competed TCU in every way. I knew we would have a chance, and I tried to communicate that to the team. They obviously bought in and stuck together in the tough moments. The guys will remember this forever, and I’m so happy for them.”


Post-Match Quote from TCU’s recap
Head Coach David Roditi – “I am obviously disappointed to have lost, but I am also happy for young head coach James Wilson, his players and staff. We had some great performances at the top and we just couldn’t get that fourth point today. We have players playing for us that are giving it their all and even playing through injuries and we just ran out of gas. We have over a week to get better tennis wise and body wise. We know it’s a long season and we will continue to improve. I am very thankful for the fan support and the staff support.”  
Utah State 4, #12 TCU 3
Jan 29, 2017 at Fort Worth, Texas (Bayard H. Friedman Tennis Center)
Singles competition
1. Alex Rybakov (TCU 14.50) def. Kai Wehnelt (USU 13.44) 6-0, 6-1
2. Jack Swindells (USU 13.19) def. #55 Guillermo Nuñez (TCU 14.07) 7-5, retired
3. #101 Jerry Lopez (TCU 14.01) def. Jaime Barajas (USU 12.93) 6-1, 6-3
4. Sergiu Bucur (USU 13.43) def. Reese Stalder (TCU 13.47) 6-1, 4-6, 7-5
5. Samuel Serrano (USU 12.82) def. Trey Daniel (TCU 13.65/75%) 6-7 (1-7), 6-4, 6-0
6. Jonas Maier (USU 12.77) def. Gianni Mancini (TCU 11.17) 6-0, 6-1
Doubles competition
1. Reese Stalder/Jerry Lopez (TCU) def. Kai Wehnelt/Samuel Serrano (USU) 6-0
2. Alex Rybakov/Guillermo Nuñez (TCU) def. Jonas Maier/Jack Swindells (USU) 6-3
3. Hudson Blake/Gianni Mancini (TCU) vs. Sergiu Bucur/Jaime Barajas (USU) 4-5, unfinished
Match Notes:
Utah State 4-3
TCU 2-2; National ranking #12
Order of finish: Doubles (1,2); Singles (6,2,1,3,4,5)
2017 ITA Kick-Off Weekend
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On Saturday College Station was the place to be with two back-to-back thrillers but on Sunday the hot spot was 100 miles to the west in Austin. I’ll start off with the region final and then go back to the consolation match that ran long and forced the Texas/Oregon match to start 75 minutes late. Texas was coming off a 4-1 win over Drake while Oregon came back from losing the doubles point to defeat Rice 4-2. Oregon made sure it would play from ahead on Sunday after it took early leads at No. 1 and No. 3 doubles and closed them out 6-2 and 6-3 (Oregon also had three match points at No. 2 at the time of the clinch). 
Texas jumped on Oregon in singles and after claiming four first sets they’d close out three of them in straight sets with Harrison Scott, Yuya Ito, and Rodrigo Banzer winning at 3, 4, and 5 to put the Horns in front 3-1. Oregon’s Ethan Young-Smith narrowed the gap to 3-2 with a 7-6, 6-4 win at No. 6 and with both of the remaining matches headed to third sets the outcome wouldn’t be determined for another 45 minutes. 
Oregon sophomore Thomas Laurent started off the third set at No. 1 by breaking Texas freshman Christian Sigsgaard but Sigsgaard would break back, hold, and break again to take a 3-1 lead. Laurent broke back to put on serve at 3-2 however Sigsgaard broke again and then held for 5-2. Next door at No. 2 singles, Texas senior George Goldhoff had just broken Oregon junior Simon Stevens to take a 4-3 lead however Stevens would break back to even it at 4-4. Back at No. 1, Laurent refused to go away and after holding for 3-5 he broke Sigsgaard for 4-5 and then held again for 5-5.
So we had the final two matches deadlocked late in the third set but they didn’t stay tied for long. Goldhoff broke Stevens on the no-ad point to go ahead 5-4 and while he was serving for the match Laurent would break Sigsgaard again and now he’d be serving for the match as well. Oregon needed both of the courts but Goldhoff made sure they’d get none and would hold from 40/15 to clinch the Texas win and send the Horns back to the National Team Indoors for the third time in the last four years.  

Post-Match Video from Texas head coach Michael CenterLINK
Post-Match Quotes from head coach Nils Schyllander via Oregon’s recap 
“Doubles play today was as good as we have every played; the energy was unbelievable. We had talked about it and the boys took it to heart. There were some great efforts out there in singles. Thomas played like a man possessed against one of the absolute best players in the nation. I was also very pleased with how Ethan was competing throughout his entire match; it was very encouraging to see him close out his opponent in straight sets.”
#9 Texas 4, Oregon 2
Jan 29, 2017 at Austin, Texas (Weller Indoor)
Singles Results
1. #6 Christian Sigsgaard (UT) vs. #33 Thomas Laurent (UO) 6-3, 4-6, 5-6, unfinished
2. George Goldhoff (UT) def. Simon Stevens (UO) 5-7, 6-3, 6-4
3. #47 Harrison Scott (UT) def. Jayson Amos (UO) 6-1, 6-2
4. #36 Yuya Ito (UT) def. Akihiro Tanaka (UO) 6-2, 6-0
5. Rodrigo Banzer (UT) def. Cormac Clissold (UO) 6-4, 6-4
6. Ethan Young-Smith (UO) def. Julian Zlobinsky (UT) 7-6 (7-4), 6-4
Doubles Results
1. Jayson Amos/Armando Soemarno (UO) def. Christian Sigsgaard/Julian Zlobinsky (UT) 6-2
2. Simon Stevens/Akihiro Tanaka (UO) vs. George Goldhoff/Colin Markes (UT) *5-4 (40/15), unfinished
3. Thomas Laurent/Cormac Clissold (UO) def. #38 Harrison Scott/Yuya Ito (UT) 6-3
Match Notes:
Oregon 3-1
Texas 6-1; National ranking #9
Order of finish: Doubles (1,3); Singles (4,3,5,6,2)
Texas advances to the ITA National Team Indoor Championships T-2:58
The first-match of the day in Austin had just as much intensity as the second with Drake and Rice going back and forth for three hours and thirty minutes. Rice looked poised to take the doubles point after picking up a 6-1 win at No. 1 and having a break lead of 4-3 at No. 2 but Drake would break on the no-ad point to even it at 4-4. Both No. 2 and No. 3 would be tied at 5-5 but Drake broke on No. 3 for 6-5 and served it out to win 7-5 while at No. 2 Drake would hold for 6-5 and then break to take it 7-5. 
Each team took three first sets in singles and three of those would finish in straight sets with Drake’s Vinny Gillespie and Tom Hands winning at No. 1 and No. 5 while Rice’s Jamie Malik won at No. 2. Drake needed just one more point and it looked like it was going to come from Ben Wood at No. 6 but Rice’s Emmanuel Llamas came back from 2-4 down in the third to win it 6-7, 6-2, 6-4.
The attention now turned to No. 3 where Drake’s Ben Stride was serving for the match up 5-4 in the third against Rice’s Jake Hansen. Hansen would break from 15/40 to even it at 5-5 but Stride broke back on the no-ad point to give himself a second opportunity to serve it out. Stride went up 40/30 but Hansen fought off both match points to break and send the match to a deciding tiebreak. Hansen was up a double mini-break at 5-2 but Stride won the next three points to tie it at 5-5. Hansen managed to get the mini-break back and then closed it out on the next point for a 6-4, 1-6, 7-6 (7-5) win. 
In the deciding match at No. 4, Drake freshman Barny Thorold had a break lead for most of the third set against Rice sophomore Eric Rutledge and would ultimately serve it out from 5-4 (40/15) to clinch the team win. 

Post-Match Quotes from Drake’s head coach Davidson Kozlowski
“Bit surprised but very pleased by the team’s effort this weekend. With the youth of our team it’s really hard to gauge what you will get out of them. This group has matured well. Had a strong showing yesterday against #9 Texas and used that to put together a very confident match today with Rice. The team wanted this match with Rice. Rice is a strong team that we have much respect for. Rice won C-USA last year, finished top 30 in the nation and happened to beat us last season at their place. So our boys definitely had revenge on their minds.” 
“Big big effort getting doubles point. It was the difference. We were down a break on court 2 doubles & found a way to steal that one.”
“Incredible job by freshman, Barny Thorold, winning both his doubles & singles matches. Keeping his nerve to clinch the win the dual tied 3-3 and lift us to a 4-3 win. Also, need to applaud Tom Hands effort the entire weekend.”

From Barny Thorold:
“The whole team did a really great job today. The atmosphere was really good and everyone got behind each other. All of the six courts were close throughout the match and there were some hard fought 3 set losses. As other courts were playing out and finishing I didn’t think I’d even get to finish the match but then some courts took some tough loses and I knew Id have to step my game up and get the win. The team got behind me and I managed to come back and take the win. I couldn’t have done it without the rest of the team.”

Post-Match Quotes from Rice’s recap
“It’s a disappointing loss, but every loss is disappointing,” Rice head coach Efe Ustundag said. “We had the doubles point on our racket, but let it get away for the first time this year and then even though we started out in singles much better than yesterday, it came down to Drake converting more of the opportunities than we did.”

“These are the types of matches were we have to get better at finding ways to win,” Ustundag said. “We are going to be in a lot of matches with teams that are pretty evenly matched. In order to win them, we’ve got to make sure that the next time we are in this situation, we know how to find a way to get the win.”

Drake 4, Rice 3
Jan 29, 2017 at Austin, Texas (Weller Indoor)
Singles competition
1. #73 Gillespie, Vinny (DU) def. Tommy Bennett (RICE) 6-4, 6-2
2. Jamie Malik (RICE) def. MacGeoch, Calum (DU) 7-5, 6-4
3. Jake Hansen (RICE) def. Stride, Ben (DU) 6-4, 1-6, 7-6 (7-5)
4. Thorold, Barnaby (DU) def. Eric Rutledge (RICE) 6-7 (6-8), 6-4, 6-4
5. Hands, Tom (DU) def. David Warren (RICE) 6-4, 7-6 (7-2)
6. Emanuel Llamas (RICE) def. Wood, Ben (DU) 6-7, 6-2, 6-4
Doubles competition
1. David Warren/Tommy Bennett (RICE) def. Gillespie, Vinny/MacGeoch, Calum (DU) 6-1
2. Stride, Ben/Wood, Ben (DU) def. Oscar Janglin/Emanuel Llamas (RICE) 7-5
3. Hands, Tom/Thorold, Barnaby (DU) def. Eric Rutledge/Jake Hansen (RICE) 7-5
Match Notes
Drake 3-1
Rice 4-3
Order of finish: Doubles (1,3,2); Singles (1,5,2,6,3,4)
ITA Kick-Off Weekend Consolation Match
Region Final Results
  • Florida advanced to the NTIs for the first time in three years with a 4-0 win over LSU – sophomore McClain Kessler clinched with a straight set win at No. 4.
  • Georgia (video) advanced to the NTIs for the 13th straight year with a 4-0 win over Washington – sophomore Emil Reinberg clinched 6-2 in the third at No. 2.
  • Mississippi State advanced to the NTIs for the first time in three years with a 4-1 win over Iowa – Mississippi State won the doubles point with 7-6 wins at both No. 1 and No. 2 and sophomore Niclas Braun provided the clincher with a 6-3, 6-4 win at No. 4.
  • Northwestern will be participating in the NTIs for the first-time ever after giving Georgia Tech a pretty sound beating – Konrad Zieba, Sam Shropshire, and Dominik Stary each won in straight sets with the trio only dropping a combined SIX games. 
  • Oklahoma advanced to the NTIs for the fifth straight year as the Sooners routed Illinois 4-0 with freshman Jochen Bertsch clinching with a 6-1, 6-1 win at No. 6 – also of note Andrew Harris won 6-3, 6-1 win at No. 1 over Illinois’s Aleks Vukic and Florin Bragusi only dropped ONE game in his win at No. 4. 
  • Baylor is heading to the NTIs for the fourth straight year after defeating SMU 4-0 – sophomore Juan Benitez got the clincher with a 6-3, 6-2 win at No. 1 – Baylor won 8 of 10 completed sets
  • USC advanced to the NTIs for the tenth straight year after defeating San Diego 6-1 – freshman Riley Smith clinched with a quick 6-1, 6-3 win at No. 6 – the teams decided to play the matched out.
  • UCLA is going back to the NTIs for at least the 36th straight year after rolling over Lamar 4-0 – junior Austin Rapp clinched with a 6-2, 6-3 win at No. 6. 
Consolation Results
  • (Texas A&M) Ole Miss junior Grey Hamilton came back from a 3-0 three set deficit in the deciding match to defeat James Martell 7-6, 6-7, 6-4 which clinched the Rebels 4-3 win over Texas A&M.
  • (TCU) Wichita State sophomore Haru Inoue (video) clinched the Shockers 4-3 win over Pacific with a 4-6, 7-6(1), 6-4 at No. 1. 
  • (USC) East Tennessee State came back from a 3-2 deficit to defeat Virginia Tech 4-3 with senior Diego Nunez winning 6-3 in the third at No. 2 and junior Robert Herrera clinching 6-3 in the third at No. 3
  • (Northwestern) Stanford won a wild 4-3 match over Memphis with five of six singles matches going the distance that ended with junior David Wilczynski clinching 7-5 in the third at No. 5
  • (Texas Tech) Florida State salvaged its weekend with a 4-1 road win at Texas Tech as freshman Rana Roop Bhullar got the clincher by taking the third set 6-2 at No. 6 – FSU was w/o its No. 2 Guy Iradukunda who missed the match with an unspecified injury. 
  • (UCLA) New Mexico shutout Boise State 4-0 with freshman Dominic West clinching with a straight set win at No. 4. 
  • (Oklahoma) Michigan shutout Arkansas 4-0 with freshman Connor Johnston clinching in straight sets at No. 6 – Michigan won every completed set in singles and was ahead in all the remaining second sets. Arkansas was w/o its No. 1 Mike Redlicki (illness) for a second day in a row.
  • (Florida) South Florida shutout UNC Wilmington 4-0 with junior Peter Bertran clinching with a straight set win at No. 1 – USF’s No. 1 Sasha Gozun sat out in singles after playing doubles. 
  • (Ohio State) Utah shutout Denver 4-0 with junior Santiago Sierra clinching at No. 3 with a 6-4 third set win. 

All the women’s results are available at the ITA’s site 

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