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.
With all the regular season conference play winding down it's that time of year where teams gear up for conference tournaments (except the Ivy League, those smart guys sit back and watch... wait it's better to play more to have a chance to improve your ranking right? not sure who the smart one's are here). At the same time everyone is gearing up for conference tournaments all the teams that have a legitimate shot at hosting start looking at the rankings trying to figure out if they have a shot of making the top 16 to host the first two rounds of the NCAA Tournament. So of course you are wondering, how's it look for my team? Well, ask no more. Below you'll find the outlook for each team and as events occur that change the outlook I'll update the post and put an update date on it. So without further ado...
#16 Southern Cal at Arizona - Arizona has had a seemingly cursed season with several close losses. They won't have to worry about that this weekend as USC should win this match fairly easily. Prediction: USC 4-0
#31 Cal at #4 Stanford - Stanford won the first meeting between these two rivals back in February 4-1. Cal has improved since the last meeting and Stanford's elite aura has been somewhat diminished since February. The Bears will give the Cardinal a closer match this time around. Prediction: Stanford 4-3
Washington at #35 Utah - Utah needs to defend the home court against unranked Washington to keep its march toward the NCAA tournament on the correct route. Washington is desperate for wins to keep its slim tournament hopes alive. This will be a tight match and so far this season, Utah has been clutch in the tight moments while Washington has succumbed in most of the close matches. I expect Utah to get the job done in the end. Prediction: Utah 4-2
#2 UCLA at #33 Arizona State - UCLA has hit its stride and is looking like a legitimate national contender. Arizona State has proved this season that winning in Tempe is not easy and they will certainly have a big crowd on hand to support their Sun Devils. Prediction: UCLA 4-2
Big weekend coming up in the ACC. Today I will preview the Friday matches (Saturday/Sunday preview to come early on Saturday).
There is actually one Thursday match but it is Florida State at Boston College and we all know how the BC ACC matches go.
#1 Wake Forest at #39 Louisville - Louisville got a very much needed win last weekend at Duke. It kept their ranking from sinking below 40 and stopped the string of three straight ACC losses. Wake Forest did not look extremely impressive vs Clemson and Georgia Tech last weekend but they were able to get two wins despite some players missing for Davis Cup. This match will be closer than people may expect with it being at Louisville and Wake hitting a slight lull in form recently. But in the end the Deacs are just too talented to lose this match . Prediction: Wake Forest 5-2
#23 NC State at #49 Virginia - The importance of this match cannot be stressed enough. Virginia absolutely must defend home courts and win this match if they wish to make the NCAA tournament this season. Following the heartbreaking loss to Duke, Virginia has gone on to lose three more in a row after that to complete a four match losing streak. Gianni Ross did not play vs Florida State. UVA will need him in the lineup if they are to upset NC State, who is on a four match win streak of their own. With their backs against the wall, I think Virginia will come together behind their fans and find a way to defeat NC State. Prediction: Virginia 4-3