UNC v Duke. ‘Nuff said. UNC beat the Blue Devils way back in February in the semifinals of the indoors (box recap) on its way to winning the event. Duke has definitely performed at a much higher level since then and that past match featured three three-setters which saw both Chen and Harris fail to win a match which is hard to imagine happening twice this season.
A couple of lower to mid-level conference teams who have had up and down seasons have chances to add a quality win to their resumes this weekend. Louisville started out hot and then cooled considerably but plays host to the Florida contingent this weekend and even getting one of these would really help their resume. The Irish face the same teams and one win would be equally big for them. Clemson has two tough road games, at Virginia and at Georgia Tech and if they could snag an upset Friday against the Cavs I am sure they would be thrilled. The Hokies and Panthers both have fairly impossible tasks this weekend, and barring some rest by some key players, they'll most have a winless weekend. Syracuse vs NC State and Wake Forest at Virginia are also very good matches, as is Wake at BC, but still, it is the final weekend and UNC and Duke are meeting for a rematch. In the words of Kid Danger, “feels good!”
We're down to the final weekend of the regular season in the Big Ten but before the guys close out the year we conducted a Q&A with one of the top seniors in the conference, Minnesota's Felix Corwin. The Elm Grove, Wisconsin, native started off his collegiate career playing at No. 4 in the singles lineup but by the end of his junior year he was up to No. 1 and has remained at the top spot throughout his senior year. During his freshman year, Corwin clinched Minnesota's first regular season Big Ten Championship in 20 years by winning the deciding match over Northwestern's Logan Staggs (now at UCLA) 4-6, 7-5, 7-6. Corwin has won 83 singles matches and 76 doubles matches in his time in the Twin Cities and his Gophers are on the verge of qualifying for the NCAA Tournament for the second year in a row and third time in the last four years.
CTT: Is it strange being so close to the end of your college career?
FC: It is a really weird feeling being almost done. It was an amazing time here at Minnesota but I am also excited for my future.
This past weekend was a good penultimate weekend of Pac-12 regular season tennis. I personally got to enjoy it by making the 3.5 hour drive up to Salt Lake City to watch the Utes battle two fellow NCAA bubble teams in Washington and Oregon.
On Friday afternoon the Utah/UW match was moved indoors as temperatures were well below the ITA minimum, infact there were some soft snow flurries in the air as I parked and walked into the indoor facility. Utah's indoor facility is pretty high quality with great viewing available behind each court
Utah won the doubles point but Washington would go on to win 2 straight singles points to gain the momentum
Third-ranked Vanderbilt, playing without its top player Astra Sharma (rib injury), captured its second straight SEC regular season championship in dramatic fashion on the road in Gainesville. The Commodores fell behind No. 10 Florida 3-1 and were trailing on each of the three remaining courts. Vandy junior Emily Smith trimmed the deficit to 3-2 by coming back from a break down in both the second and third sets to defeat Katie Kubicz 3-6, 6-3, 6-3 at No. 6. Vandy sophomore Christina Rosca tied it at 3-3 after coming back from 2-0 down in the third to defeat Josie Kuhlman 6-1, 1-6, 6-2 at No. 2. In the deciding match at No. 5, Vandy junior Summer Dvorak came back from a double-break 4-1 third-set deficit to defeat Peggy Porter 6-7, 6-3, 6-4. The Commodores are the top seed in this week's SEC Tournament in Knoxville.
Texas Tech, ranked No. 13, improved to 16-5 after going on the road and sweeping No. 51 Oklahoma and No. 11 Oklahoma State. The Red Raiders rolled over the higher-ranked OSU Cowgirls 4-1 on Sunday after getting a scare from OU on Friday. Against OU, Tech squeezed out the doubles point by winning tiebreaks at No. 1 and No. 2 and then extended the lead to 3-0 with wins at No. 4 and No. 6. OU swept the top three singles spots to tie it at 3-3 but Tech's Sarah Dvorak held on to win the decider 7-6(4) in the third. Texas Tech, which closes out the regular season with road matches at Iowa State and West Virginia, should all but be a lock to host a regional.
It was a pretty wild weekend of college tennis with several unexpected surprises. Some teams positioned themselves really well to get a NCAA at-large bid while others took some bad losses and may have put themselves on the outside looking in.
We will start with the big winners of the week on the men's side. Dartmouth extended its winning streak to four, and put itself in position to win its first Ivy League title since 1997, after coming back from a 3-0 deficit to stun No. 15 Columbia 4-3. Dartmouth senior Max Fliegner tied the match at 3-3 after coming back from a break down in the third set to defeat Columbia sophomore Adam Ambrozy 7-6(1), 3-6, 6-4. Ambrozy was serving up 3-2 (40/15) in the third set before being overruled on an out call and after being assessed a point-penalty (3rd overrule) he lost the 40/40 point to make it 3-3. After an exchange of holds, Fliegner was serving 4-4 (40/30) when Ambrozy called a serve out. Fliegner appealed the call to the chair and when the overrule was granted that meant it was game, set, and match since it was Ambrozy's fourth overrule which resulted in a game penalty. By this time Dartmouth freshman Dan Martin had opened up a 4-0 lead in the third set at No. 3 and would go on to close out Columbia freshman Jack Lin 6-7(6), 6-4, 6-0.
The win by the Big Green snapped Columbia's seven-year Ivy League home winning streak which dated back to April 23, 2011.
Dartmouth entered the weekend in good shape to get an at-large bid but after beating Columbia and Cornell they don't have to worry about being on the bubble any more. The Big Green can secure the Ivy's automatic bid by defeating Penn and Princeton at home next weekend.
This weekend had all the feel of the calm before the storm, with next weekend being the final matches before tourney time. Pretty much every team did exactly as expected this weekend. NC State continues to have a strong April, although they faltered on Sunday to a Virginia team that needed to prove it could win some tough conference matches, especially on the road. The Cavs split the weekend in Carolina, dropping their match against UNC on Friday.
The heavyweights took care of business with Duke beating an up and coming Syracuse team. Wake did enough to remain in the mix taking care of Louisville on Sunday, but its loss on Friday to NC State felt like a tale of two teams headed in opposite directions. Georgia Tech, Miami, and Florida State all had relatively easy weekends without being tested. Louisville, Notre Dame, Va Tech, and Pittsburgh were unable to play the role of spoiler.
Boston College has had a fairly positive spring and was able to get its first-ever win against Notre Dame on Friday.