Georgia Tech Women Sting #4 North Carolina, Columbia Roars Past Cornell, UCF Upsets USF, Peter Smith Wins #600Written by Bobby Knight
After watching a top 10 men's showdown on Friday night in Winston-Salem, I took in a top 10 women's showdown on Saturday afternoon in Chapel Hill. Fourth-ranked North Carolina hadn't dropped a regular season conference match in three years and was riding a 50-match home court winning streak but both of those streaks would come to an end courtesy of tenth-ranked Georgia Tech. North Carolina was playing without Alexa Graham (#4S/#2D) who was out with an illness so they had to change one doubles pairing and move everyone in the lower half of the singles lineup forward one spot.
North Carolina's Hayley Carter and Jessie Aney jumped out to an early break lead at No. 1 doubles and would add another to win 6-2. Georgia Tech's Kenya Jones and Paige Hourigan followed a similar path at No. 2 doubles and also won 6-2. The point would be decided at No. 3 between Georgia Tech's Nami Otsuka/Luca Fabian and North Carolina's Sara Daavettila/Rachael James-Baker. Georgia Tech won three of the first four games to go up 3-1 but North Carolina broke and held for 3-3. A few games later Georgia Tech held for 5-4 and then they broke UNC from 15/40, via a double fault, to take the match 6-4.
Wake Wins Wild One Over Virginia, TCU Keeps On Rolling, Texas Wins Red River Rivalry, Minnesota & Wisconsin Pick Up Big WinsWritten by Bobby Knight
What a night of tennis it was in Winston-Salem as top-ranked Wake Forest fought through the wind and a tough as nails opponent to defeat previously undefeated No. 3 Virginia 5-2. The match was originally scheduled to start at 4 p.m. ET but due to a late shower the start was delayed two and a half hours until 6:30 p.m. Once play began both teams had to fight through windy conditions and as the sun dropped so did the temperature.
Virginia got off to a quick start at No. 3 doubles with JC Aragone and Collin Altamirano holding on a no-ad point and then breaking on a no-ad point to go up 2-0. Wake's Petros Chrysochos and Dennis Uspensky would break back back on a no-ad point and then hold on another no-ad point for 2-2. After an exchange of holds, Wake would break the Aragone serve at love to go up 4-3. Chrysochos would hold from 40/30 to make it 5-3 and then Wake broke the Altamirano serve from 30/40 to win it 6-3.
Virginia also went up an early break at No. 2 doubles when Thai-Son Kwiatkowski and Alexander Ritschard broke the Alan Gadjiev serve from 30/40 to put Virginia in front 3-2. Gadjiev and Borna Gojo would put it back on serve at 4-4 when they broke the Ritschard serve from 30/40 on a point that ended with Gadjiev putting a volley away right on top of the net. Virginia claimed that Gadjiev's racquet came over the net on the final volley but the chair disagreed and the break stood. If you watch the clip just as the point ends Wake also breaks on 3 so that 25 seconds was a big sequence for the Deacs. After Gadjiev held from 40-15 for 5-4, Kwiatkowski fought off a match point on the no-ad point when the chair overruled Wake's out call on the serve. The match would end up going unfinished with Wake leading 6-5.
The last day of March brings us one of the biggest matches of the year as No. 1 Wake Forest hosts No. 3 Virginia in a match that will hopefully be played outdoors if the rain clears out in time. The match was originally scheduled to be the last USTA College MatchDay event of the year but unfortunately the broadcast had to be cancelled due to the uncertainty of the weather which is calling for rain up until about 4 p.m. I'll be in Winston-Salem this afternoon and am hoping to see outdoor tennis even if the start time has to be delayed a few hours.
The Big 12 kicks of its conference schedule on Friday evening with a pair of gems as No. 6 Texas travels to Norman to play No. 13 Oklahoma while a resurgent No. 16 TCU goes to Stillwater to play No. 8 Oklahoma State. I am expecting Andrew Harris to be back in the lineup for OU so it'll be interesting to see how he plays after missing the last month and a half.
Georgia Gashes Mississippi State, South Florida Soaks Tulane, Kentucky Still Kicking, Gators Growl at the TideWritten by Bobby Knight
Thursday was a busy day in the SEC with eight teams in action however the highest profile match of the day didn't quite live up to expectations. Georgia, ranked No. 14, strolled into Starkville and took out the host No. 17 Mississippi State 4-0 in just under two and a half hours. The doubles point itself took just under an hour with two of the three matches going to tiebreaks. Mississippi State's No. 2 team of Mate Cutura and Vaughn Hunter won the only match that didn't go to a tiebreak. Cutura and Hunter broke from 30/40 to go up 3-2 and then they came back from 15/40 down to hold for 4-2. After an exchange of holds, Cutura and Hunter broke at love to take it 6-3.
The other two matches looked like they'd be blowouts after the way each started. Mississippi State's Niclas Braun and Trevor Foshey jumped out to a 4-1 lead at No. 1 but Georgia's Robert Loeb and Jan Zielinski came back to tie it at 4-4. Mississippi State held on the no-ad point for 5-4 and after three more holds it'd go to a tiebreak. Georgia jumped out to a 3-0 lead in the tiebreak and they wouldn't drop a point on serve and would win it 7-3.
Georgia's Walker Duncan and Wayne Montgomery jumped out to a 4-0 lead at No. 2 doubles however Mississippi State's Nuno Borges and Giovanni Oradini would come all the way back to tie it at 5-5 after breaking Georgia on the no-ad point. Each team had an easy hold to push it to a tiebreak and then Georgia went up a mini-break at 2-1 and pulled away to win it 7-5.
Late Tuesday afternoon news started to circulate that University of Virginia men's head coach Brian Boland was departing to take over as the new USTA Player Development Head of Men's Tennis and on Wednesday morning it was officially confirmed. Boland will finish out the current season at Virginia and will then relocate to Orlando where he'll serve under USTA Player Development General Manager Martin Blackman. Boland took over as head coach at Virginia in 2001 and since then his teams have won over 400 matches while winning three of the last four NCAA Championships and completely rewriting the record books at both Virginia and in the ACC. The USTA's release also includes a Q&A while Virginia's release has several great quotes with a few of them below. I also embedded Boland's press conference from earlier today where he talked in more detail about his decision to head south.
The ITA released its latest team rankings today with the Wake Forest men and Florida women remaining in the top spots. In the men's team rankings, Ohio State moved back up to No. 2 while Virginia dropped down to No. 3 while Baylor and USC stayed at No. 4 and No. 5. On the women's side, Ohio State, Georgia, and North Carolina remained at No. 2, No. 3, and No. 4 while Vanderbilt came up three spots No. 5.
These team rankings were comprised of each team's seven best wins and all losses but next week it moves to each team's eight best wins. The following week it goes up to nine and will stay at nine up through the selection of the NCAA field and then they go to ten for the final rankings after the NCAA Championships.