The third time was the charm for Nuno Borges after the Mississippi State senior advanced to the finals of the NCAA Men’s Singles Championship after a straight set win over TCU senior Alex Rybakov. Borges was playing in the NCAA Semifinals for the third year in a row but after losses the last two years he put it all together on Friday and became the first MSU men’s player to advance to the NCAA Singles Final.
The opening set was back and forth with a total of five breaks of serve with the last coming when Borges broke Rybakov’s 5-6 service game after Rybakov had three set points at 40/15.
In the second set, Rybakov broke Borges to go up 2-1 but Borges immediately broke back for 2-2. After a Borges hold for 3-2, he broke Rybakov for 4-2 and then it was all holds the rest of the way in the 7-5, 6-3 win.
“Today was about seeing who could apply the game plan better,” Borges said. “We knew each other pretty well, so I knew I had to stick to my game plan and stay tough. I think, at the end, he was a little more tired than I was, so that helped me.”
After the match Rybakov talked about what what makes Borges such a tough opponent, “He has the same intensity point in and point out. There are some guys here that will give you some here and there, but he makes you play every point. I had a couple three setters, today my legs were a little a bit tired and he got the best of me.”
Borges will carry a 31-match winning streak into the final with two of those wins coming over his finals opponent, South Carolina junior Paul Jubb.
Jubb became the first Gamecocks man to advance to the finals after a three-set win over Illinois junior Aleks Kovacevic.
In the opening set, Jubb came back from 0-3 down to get it back on serve at 4-5 however Kovacevic would break back on the deciding point to take the set 6-4.
The second set started off with an exchange of breaks but Jubb would add a second break to go up 3-2. It’d be all holds the rest of the set with Jubb forcing a third after taking the second 6-4. “My coaches were saying that it ‘doesn’t matter if you run out of time in the first set; you’re moving in the right direction, so just try to keep it going in the second set,’ Jubb said. “I started seeing the ball a bit better and moving to the ball a bit better on my forehand. Things just started going forward in my direction.”
Jubb took over in the final frame with a break to start the set and then he’d add a second break to go up 4-1. After an exchange of holds, Jubb served it out to win 4-6, 6-4, 6-2.
Kovacevic on how he would sum up his week in Orlando, “It was a great week. I took every opportunity I could. I really wanted it, to go all the way, but it happens. Credit to Paul, he played unbelievable. Hes a really good player, this was one of the matches where I really felt like I was pushed. I was on the defensive a lot and my game is usually to take it to him and play on the offense but he did a really good job of taking that away from me in the second and third sets so credit to him. Ill just have to come back stronger next year.
When talking about his finals opponent (Borges), Jubb had this to say, “It’s a great matchup. We’ve played twice already this season and both pushed each other to the limit. I’m going to do my best and see how it goes.”
The men’s final begins at 4 pm eastern and will be broadcast live on the Tennis Channel with live scoring available at this link.
The women’s final will be 1 vs. 2 after top-seeded Miami junior Estela Perez-Somarriba and second-seeded Georgia sophomore Katarina Jokic took care of business on Friday.
Perez-Somarriba became the third Miami women to advance to the finals, first since 2009, after a comfortable straight set win over North Carolina freshman Cameron Morra. Perez-Somarriba jumped out to a 2-0 lead in the first set but Morra took the next two to even it at 2-2. Perez-Somarriba broke and held for 4-2 and then she’d break again on the deciding point to take the opening set 6-3. Perez-Somarriba opened up a 4-0 lead in the second set and took it 6-3, 6-1.
“She just looked like she had ice in her veins today,” Miami head coach Paige Yaroshuk-Tews said. “She did a good job of keeping Morra on her toes, which is what you have to do. She’s a very rhythmic player. She hits big off of both sides. When she’s down, she just absolutely rocks the ball. Stela served well, used her off-pace serve to get short looks, handled the situation well, I thought, and moved so much better than yesterday, which allowed her to just play great tennis.”
Perez-Somarriba’s post-match interview is available at this link.
Morra on her thoughts after the match, “I think Estela has had a great tournament, she deserves it and I know shell do great tomorrow. But its been such a great experience. Ive had my dad here all week and to have my family around and my coaches, its been great, I really cant complain.”
The two other Miami players to advance to the finals were Laura Vallverdu and Audra Cohen in 2009 and 2007 with Vallverdu falling to Duke’s Mallory Cecil while Cohen defeated USC’s Lindsey Nelson.
Jokic became the fifth Georgia women’s player to advance to the finals, first since Chelsey Gullickson in 2010, after a straight set win over Duke sophomore Kelly Chen.
Chen came out strong and took an early 3-1 lead, and she had a chance to add a second break for 4-1, but Jokic held on the deciding point and then took the next three games to go up 5-3. Chen broke back and held for 5-5 but Jokic held and broke to take the opening set 7-5. In the second set, Jokic jumped out to a 4-1 lead and closed it out 7-5, 6-2.
“It was a really tough match,” Jokic said. “We played a really good match. I’m glad I won in straight sets though, because I have one more to go. I’ll rest as much as I can, eat, sleep and get in the ice bath to recover as best as I can. I’m going to think about strategy, but also talk to Jeff [Wallace, head coach] and Drake [Bernstein, associate head coach] in preparation for tomorrow.”
“I’m really excited for Katarina,” Georgia head coach Jeff Wallace said. “She played great today and looked healthier than what she has been. She has been pushed to max this past week playing 14 matches, which is the most by any man or woman down here. It has been a super-human effort. Today she looked strong. I really want to thank our strength and conditioning coach Katrin Koch and our athletic trainer Abbey Sponseller for the spectacular job today and leading up to it.”
Kelly Chen on how she would describe her run to the semifinals, “If I wouldve looked back five months ago, at least with individuals, I dont think I wouldve been here. But Ive worked hard to get to where I am now so even though I lost today Im still pretty proud of myself.”
The women’s final begins after the conclusion of the men’s final – no sooner than 5:30 pm eastern.
 Estela Perez-Somarriba (Miami FL Jr/ESP) def. Cameron Morra (UNC Fr/USA) 6-3, 6-1
 Katarina Jokic (UGA Soph/SRB) def. Kelly Chen (Duke So/USA) 7-5, 6-2
 Estela Perez-Somarriba (Miami FL Jr/ESP) vs.  Katarina Jokic (UGA Soph/SRB) – NB 5:30 pm ET
 Max Cressy/Keegan Smith (UCLA) def. [5-8] Timo Stodder/Preston Touliatos (Tenn) 6-2, 6-1
UCLA will have a chance to sweep doubles titles after Gabby Andrews and Ayan Broomfield advanced to the women’s final with a 6-4, 6-4 win over the top seeded USC team of Angela Kulikov and Rianna Valdes. Andrews and Broomfield jumped out to a 3-0 lead in the first set and made the single break advantage hold up. In the second set, Andrews and Broomfield broke to start the set but Kulikov and Valdes got it back on serve at 3-3. Andrews and Broomfield broke back for 4-3 and a few games later they’d serve it out.
If Andrews and Broomfield win the title they’d become the 7th UCLA women’s team to win the NCAA Doubles Championship and first since Tracy Lin and Riza Zalameda in 2008.
“Gabby and I, we both transferred here,” said Broomfield. “We both transferred to UCLA. We were looking for a more competitive program, a better program, a better place for us to grow as people and as tennis players. Win or lose tomorrow, I think we’ve done that. I think we’ve helped the program as much as we could. I think that we’ve grown as individuals. We have great relationships with the girls on the team, the coaching staff, everyone at UCLA. So I think the win would be a lot for UCLA and the tennis program, but I think win or lose, we’re really proud of what we’ve accomplished already.”
The other doubles semifinal wasn’t as close with Michigan’s Kate Fahey and Brienne Minor becoming the first Wolverines women’s duo to advance to the finals after a 6-2, 6-2 win over South Carolina’s Ingrid Gamarra Martins and Mia Horvit.
Women’s Doubles Semifinals
 Gabby Andrews/Ayan Broomfield (UCLA) def.  Angela Kulikov/Rianna Valdes (USC) 6-4, 6-4
Kate Fahey/Brienne Minor (Michigan) def.  Ingrid Gamarra Martins/Mia Horvit (South Carolina) 6-2, 6-2
Women’s Doubles Finals
 Gabby Andrews/Ayan Broomfield (UCLA) vs. Kate Fahey/Brienne Minor (Michigan) – 5 pm ET
**Quotes are from the school’s recaps or the USTA National Campus’s daily recap.