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. He’s 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. I’ll 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.
Despite a slew of early upsets the top two women's seeds still remain in what will be an ACC-heavy semifinals while on the men's side it'll be an upperclassmen-laden semifinals with three of the top four seeds still alive.
Women's top seed Miami junior Estela Perez-Somarriba advanced to the semifinals for the second time in three years after a 6-4, 6-4 win over Illinois sophomore Asuka Kawai. Perez-Somarriba on how she felt her match today went, "I think it took me awhile to get used to her ball, especially the serve. Once I was able to figure that out, I think that I was more confident and trusting all of my shots. On her second appearance in the semifinals, "Well, I think that the other years I gained a lot of confidence. This is all about the process and learning about past matches. I’m really happy that I was in this situation a couple of years ago and I’m happy I’ve had the opportunity to fight and play for the rest of Miami and do my best."
Perez-Somarriba's semifinal opponent will be North Carolina freshman Cameron Morra, who became the first UNC women to reach the semifinals as a freshman, after defeating Texas Tech senior Felicity Maltby 6-3, 5-7, 6-3.
Women's second seed Georgia sophomore Katarina Jokic became the ninth Georgia women to advance to the semifinals after coming back from a set and break down to defeat UCLA junior Jada Hart 4-6, 6-4, 6-3 in 2 hours and 45 minutes. Jokic, who was playing her 12th match in the last 7 days (singles/dubs) fell behind 4-6, 1-3 before rallying to win the second set 6-4. Jokic also went down a break in the third set at 1-2 before breaking back and closing it out on a deciding point hold.
Jokic was back on the court a short while later to play doubles but she and Lourdes Carle fell 10-8 in the third set supertiebreak to Michigan's Kate Fahey and Brienne Minor. Georgia head coach Jeff Wallace on Jokic's day, "It was a really tough match today. Both players really gave it everything they had. Kat [Jokic] was so tired I wasn't even sure if she was going to get through this thing. There was a moment during the match [in singles] it was almost like 'should we stop for health reasons', but she just kept playing and she reached a level that was absolutely incredible. She found just barely enough energy to get through it. And then quite honestly I didn't think she would be able to get back out there for doubles, but a cold shower, a little bit to eat, and a massage, she got ready, and played some really good doubles. We had a huge opportunity there, but lost a close one in a 10-point tiebreaker. They played really well and I'm really proud that they are All-Americans."
Jokic's semifinal opponent will be Duke sophomore Kelly Chen, who became the fifth Duke women to reach the semifinals, after a 6-3, 6-4 win over UNC junior Sara Daavettila. Chen jumped out to big leads in each set leading 5-0 in the first and 3-0 in the second. “I am really excited,” Chen said. “It’s my first time in the semifinals and I’m excited for what’s to come tomorrow.”
Both women's semifinals will start no earlier than 5 pm eastern.
The singles draws have reached the quarterfinal round with only two seeds remaining on the women's side (top two seeds) while 5 of the top 8 men's seeds remain though there was a big upset in the Round of 16.
The big upset came when Florida freshman Sam Riffice came back from a set down to knock out on of the favorites No. 2 seed JJ Wolf (Ohio State) 3-6, 6-3, 6-2. Wolf entered the match with a 35-1 singles record (31 straight set wins) and had only dropped 7 sets all season but Riffice was able to get it going in the last two sets. Riffice on how he fought through after dropping the first set, "I had a lot of chances in the first set, I was up a break early on. I just wasn’t serving well. I kind of changed up where I was placing my serves and I tried to serve with more body just because he’s got such powerful swings. I tried to not let him extend, so I tried jamming him up. I felt like I was holding my serve a lot more, I knew I was in his service games, I had a lot of close chances and he served his way out. I felt like over time I broke down his serve which happened late in the second and the third sets."
Riffice on how he pulled out the win, "I think I played an amazing match today. I had a good game plan to disrupt his rhythm since he’s such a powerful player. He’s got a really good serve and first strike afterward. I was trying to mix up the rhythm; slice a lot, get the ball over his head and do those types of things to throw him off and disrupt him. I thought I executed my game plan really well today."
Men's top seed Nuno Borges (Miss State) had a great day on the court. The Bulldog senior only dropped 1 game in a straight set rout over Tennessee's Timo Stodder and then later Borges and his doubles partner Strahinja Rakic dropped just 3 games in a win over Cal's Jacob Brumm and Yuta Kikuchi (Cal). Borges is now 35-2 on the year in singles while he and Rakic are 23-10 on the year in doubles. Borges and Rakic on what’s been clicking for the pair, "Sometimes we make the same call in the serve at the same exact time. We feel each other, we play similar, we know what we want. That’s how it is, if you understand each other, it helps."
According to Mississippi State's recap, the Bulldogs became the first team since Stanford in 1998 to have 2 players make the singles quarterfinals and 2 teams make the doubles quarterfinals. Joining Borges in the singles quarterfinals was Giovanni Oradini who came back from a set down to edge Columbia's Jack Lin 3-6, 6-4, 6-4 while Oradini and Niclas Braun advanced to the doubles quarterfinals with a 6-4, 6-2 win over Northwestern's Simen Bratholm and Nick Brookes.
The first two days of the individuals have been completed in Orlando with 11 of the top 16 women's seeds going home early while 9 of the men's top 16 advanced to the Round of 16 including 7 of the top 8.
The opening round on Monday claimed 4 of the top 8 women's seeds with No. 3 Kate Fahey (Michigan), No. 4 Ingrid Gamarra Martins (S Carolina), No. 5 Makenna Jones (UNC), and No. 8 Sophie Whittle (Gonzaga) are going down. The only men's top 8 seed to lose in the first two round was Texas's Christian Sigsgaard who fell on Monday to Texas A&M's Juan Carlos Aguilar.
I have the notable results from the first two rounds listed below along with the Round of 16 scheduled for Wednesday. The NCAA Quarterfinals are on Thursday, the semifinals on Friday, and the finals will be on Saturday.
Full results are available on the USTA National Campus's website along with links to scoring and video - almost make sure you check NCAATennis on Twitter because they have clips of almost all the match points.
For the second year in a row, third time in the last four years, and 20th time overall the Stanford Cardinal are the NCAA Women's National Champion after the No. 3 seed defeated No. 1 Georgia 4-0.
The Cardinal finished the year on a 23-match winning streak and by defeating Georgia they avenged their only loss of the season which came in the semifinals of the National Team Indoors in Seattle.
Stanford won the doubles point for the 23rd time in 29 matches after picking up wins at No. 2 and No. 3. The first match to finish came at No. 1 where Georgia's Lourdes Carle and Katarina Jokic rolled to a 6-1 win over Kimberly Yee and Caroline Lampl but by then Stanford would have break leads on both of the other two courts.
Stanford's Janice Shin and Melissa Lord were playing together at No. 3 for the third match in a row, after not playing together for the previous seven months, but they picked up an early break to take a 2-1 lead. Georgia's Marta Gonzalez and Meg Kowalski broke back for 2-2 but Shin and Lord would break back and hold for 4-2. After an exchange of holds, Shin and Lord would break to win it 6-3.
The deciding match at No. 2 had seesawed back and forth with Stanford's Michaela Gordon and Emily Arbuthnott jumping out to a 2-0 lead before Georgia's Elena Christofi and Vivian Wolff won the next three go up 3-2*. Gordon held and then she and Arbuthnott broke from 30/40 to go in front 4-3. Arbuthnott held on the deciding point for 5-3 and then Wolff held for 4-5. Christofi and Wolff broke Gordon at love to even it at 5-5 but Gordon and Arbuthnott quickly broke Christofi's serve to go up 6-5. Arbuthnott served it out from 40/15 to give Stanford the 7-5 win. It was just the second loss of the year for Christofi and Wolff who entered the match with a 17-1 record while Gordon and Arbuthnott improved to 17-4.
For the first time in school history the Texas Longhorns are the NCAA Men's National Champions after the No. 2 seed defeated the defending NCAA Champs Wake Forest 4-1.
It was a wild year in Austin that saw longtime head coach Michael Center get dismissed after his involvement in the big admissions scandal and then a month later the program achieved a No. 1 national ranking for the first time in program history. The upperclassmen-laden roster stuck together during the tough times and despite a somewhat surprising loss in the Big XII Tournament to Baylor they hit their peak during the NCAA Tournament and ran over one tough opponent after another.
Sunday's final didn't start off on the best note for the Horns after they dropped the doubles point for the first time since the second round against South Florida.
Wake Forest had dropped the doubles point in four consecutive matches so they made a change at No. 3 and replaced Sid Banthia's usual partner, Melios Efstathiou, with Julian Zlobinsky. Banthia and Zlobinsky hadn't played together since late March and Texas's Chih Chi Huang and Yuya Ito would pounce early and break for 2-1. Huang and Ito extended the lead to 5-1 and would go on to win 6-2.
Wake's Bar Botzer and Petros Chrysochos jumped out to a 3-0 lead against Colin Markes and Leo Telles at No. 2 and it'd be all holds the rest of the way with Wake winning 6-3.
The deciding match at No. 1 saw six straight holds to start the match until Wake's Alan Gadjiev and Borna Gojo broke Harrison Scott's serve on the deciding point to take a 4-3 lead. Gadjiev held for 5-3 and then Scott's partner Christian Sigsgaard held for 4-5. Gojo would serve it out at love to give Wake the 6-4 win.
Championship Sunday is upon us with No. 2 Texas taking on No. 4 Wake Forest in the men's final while No. 1 Georgia plays No. 3 Stanford in the women's final.
Wake Forest will be seeking its second consecutive championship while Texas is looking for its first. Stanford will also be seeking its second consecutive championship and 20th overall while Georgia hopes to win its third.
For the fourth straight day the weather forecast calls for plenty of sunshine and temperatures in the upper 80s so unless something unexpected happens this will be the first time in recent memory that none of the matches at the finals site were effected by wet weather.
Let's take one final dive into the numbers to see who has the edge in each championship match.
After four months of dual-match action we're finally down to the final two after a great day of tennis on Saturday.
The opening match of the day saw No. 2 Texas come through in the clutch to win a close doubles point and then after jumping No. 3 Florida in singles the Longhorns held on to win 4-2.
In doubles, Texas jumped out to early break leads at both No. 1 and No. 3 while Florida went up an early break at No. 2 but all three matches would simultaneously find their way back to 3-3. Texas's Christian Sigsgaard and Harrison Scott took the next three games to defeat Johannes Ingildsen and McClain Kessler 6-3 at No. 1. Over at No. 3 doubles, Florida's Duarte Vale and Andres Andrade would have two match points on Texas's 5-6 service game but Chih Chi Huang and Yuya Ito came back to hold and then they ran away in the tiebreak to clinch the doubles point with a 7-1 tiebreak win. The match at No. 2 went unfinished with Texas serving 5-6 (40/40) after just fighting off a match point at 30/40.
Texas used the momentum from the doubles point and really jumped on Florida in singles by going up breaks on all six courts. Florida would come back in a few spots but Texas ended up with four first sets while Florida snagged two.
Texas junior Yuya Ito would make it 2-0 after quickly disposing of Sam Riffice 6-2, 6-2 at No. 2 singles. It was Ito's fifth straight win and 17th win in his last 19 matches.
Texas senior Rodrigo Banzer was off the court next at No. 6 singles after a 6-2, 6-4 win over McClain Kessler. The difference in this match was the 40-all deciding points with Banzer going a perfect 7 for 7 which of course meant Kessler went 0 for 7.
It'll be a quick turnaround for the women with everyone back on court less than 24 hours after completing their quarterfinal matches. North Carolina and Stanford will play the opening semifinal at 2 pm eastern while Georgia and Duke won't take the court until the conclusion of the men's semifinal between Wake Forest and North Carolina which I expect to be a lengthy 3 plus hour match.
All your stats, trends, and records are listed down below in the match tables so look them over and try to figure out who will win.
The NCAA's Women's Final Four is set after a long day of tennis in Orlando with the first ball struck at noon eastern and the last celebration taking place just before midnight. The two late matches were the closer of the four with top seed Georgia coming back from a late 3-2 deficit to edge No. 8 Vanderbilt 4-3 while No. 5 Duke pulled off the mild upset over No. 4 South Carolina 4-1.
SEC rivals Georgia and Vanderbilt were meeting for the third time in the last three months and for the second time Vanderbilt would grab the early lead after an impressive performance in doubles.
Vanderbilt jumped out to break leads on all three courts but Georgia came back to tie all three at 3-3. VU's top team of Emma Kurtz and Emily Smith won the next three games to close out Lourdes Carle and Katarina Jokic 6-3 while Georgia's No. 3 team of Marta Gonzalez and Meg Kowalski won the next two and served for the match up 5-3. VU's Christina Rosca and Amanda Meyer broke back on 3 and were serving at 4-5 when teammates Fernanda Contreras and Georgia Drummy sealed the doubles point with a 6-4 win at No. 2 over previously unbeaten Elena Christofi and Vivian Wolff (16-0 now 16-1).
Vanderbilt came out strong in singles and went up breaks on all but one court and would ultimately take four opening sets.
Despite going down an early break at No. 1 singles, Georgia sophomore Katarina Jokic would get it back on serve at 2-2 and then go on to win 10 of the next 13 games to defeat Georgia Drummy 6-3, 6-2 which tied the overall match at 1-1.
VU senior Fernanda Contreras put the Dores back in front with a 6-3, 6-2 win at No. 2 over Marta Gonzalez. Contreras had also defeated Gonzalez in straight sets in the final regular season meeting while Gonzalez lost for the third time against VU.
UGA sophomore Vivian Wolff tied it back up after winning her 19th straight match (23-1 in dual-match play) with a come from behind 3-6, 6-0, 6-3 win over Amanda Meyer at No. 4 singles. Meyer had handed Wolff her only dual-match loss of the year back in February when the teams met at the National Team Indoors in Seattle.