Saturday, 18 February 2017 21:45

North Carolina & Wake Forest Win Thrillers; Virginia & Ohio State Roll

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The second day of the 2017 Men's ITA National Team Indoor Championships brought us two thrilling main draw matches and two that were over shortly after they started. All four semifinalists were top five seeds with three hailing from the Atlantic Coast Conference and the fourth comes from the Big Ten.

We'll start off with one of the two thrillers as the No. 4 seed California took on the No. 5 seed North Carolina. At last year's NTIs, North Carolina made a habit of winning matches after dropping the doubles point and it seems like that tradition has continued this year. Cal jumped out to early break leads on all three courts with Andre Goransson and Billy Griffith breaking on the no-ad point to go up 3-1 at No. 2, Bjorn Hoffmann and JT Nishimura breaking at love to go up 3-2 at No. 3, and Filip Bergevi and Florian Lakat breaking to go up 4-2 at No. 1.

Bergevi and Lakat would finish first at No. 1 with Lakat hitting an ace down the T on the 40/30 point to win it 6-4. North Carolina actually called the serve out but when Cal appealed the call the chair overturned it to make the result official. North Carolina's Blaine Boyden and Simon Soendergaard got their match at No. 3 back on serve at 4-4 however Cal would break back to go up 5-4. Cal's Goransson and Griffith would maintain their early break lead at No. 2 and Griffith would serve it out from 40/30 with a service winner to give Cal the doubles point with a 6-3 win.

The match at No. 3 went unfinished with Cal's Bjorn Hoffmann serving 5-4 (40/40) - Hoffmann and Nishimura thought they won it on the 40/30 point but their out call on a shot on the baseline was overruled by the chair. Hoffmann missed his first serve on the 40/40 point and before he could serve up his second serve Cal clinched. 

North Carolina dropped the doubles point on Friday against Georgia and responded by winning four first sets in singles but today they two-upped themselves by sweeping all six first sets. North Carolina freshman Simon Soendergaard put the Tar Heels on the board with a straight set win over Filip Bergevi at No. 3. Soendergaard broke Bergevi to go up 5-4 in the first and then he held on the no-ad point after hitting a sensational half-volley to take the set 6-4. Soendergaard broke Bergevi on the no-ad point to go up 2-1 and then he held on the no-ad point for 3-1. Soendergaard broke again and held for 5-1 and then after a Bergevi hold he'd serve it out to win it 6-4, 6-2. 

North Carolina sophomore Bo Boyden put the Tar Heels ahead 2-1 with a straight set win over Connor Heap at No. 6. Boyden broke Heap's opening service game on the no-ad point to go ahead 1-0 and he'd add another break to go up 4-1. After an exchange of holds, Boyden would hit an ace on the no-ad point to close out the first set 6-2. The second set stayed on serve until deep in the set with Heap holding on the no-ad point for 5-4 and then Boyden came back from 15/40 down to hold for 5-5. Boyden would snag the lone break of the set when he hit a crosscourt backhand winner on the no-ad point to go up 6-5. Heap had a chance to go up 0/30 on Boyden's 6-5 service game but he hit an overhead from point blank range into the net to make it 15-all. Boyden went up 30/15 after Heap played a shot that looked a foot out and then he went up 40/15 with a service winner. Heap hit a backhand winner to make it 40/30 and then Boyden netted a forehand to bring up the no-ad point. Boyden closed it out with an ace down the T to come away with a 6-2, 7-5 win.

North Carolina had the lead but Cal had earned splits on each of the other four courts and Andre Goransson was nearing the finish line at No. 2. Goransson dropped the opening set 6-2 to first-semester freshman William Blumberg but he'd race out to a 4-0 lead in the second set and force a third set with a 6-2 set of his own. Goransson kept the momentum going in the third and went up 5-0 before Blumberg held and broke to make it 5-2. Goransson would break back from 30/40 with a forehand winner down the line to win it 2-6, 6-2, 6-2.

The match was tied at 2-2 and it looked like Cal was about to put another point on the board with Florian Lakat serving up 4-1 in the third at No. 1 however Ronnie Schneider would hang in there and take one of the breaks back and then hold for 3-4. 

While Schneider was rallying at No. 1, fellow senior Jack Murray was nearing the finish line at No. 5 after he broke Cal freshman Bjorn Hoffmann on the no-ad point to go up 4-3 in the third. Murray had just broke Hoffmann two games earlier to go up 3-2 but Hoffmann immediately broke back to even it at 3-all. Murray held to go up 5-3 but Hoffmann would hold and then hit a forehand winner to break from 30/40 to even it at 5-all. Murray broke back from 15/40 when Hoffmann netted a forehand and then Murray served it out from 40/15 to win it 6-3, 3-6, 7-5.  

Meanwhile back at No. 1, Ronnie Schneider had come all the way back from two breaks down to even it at 4-4, after Lakat just missed a forehand on the 30/40 point, and then Schneider held to go ahead 5-4. While many people were watching that court, UNC junior Robert Kelly was pulling away from Cal's Billy Griffith at No. 4. After Kelly took the first set 6-4, Griffith broke on the no-ad point to take the second 6-4. Kelly broke Griffith on the no-ad point to go ahead 1-0 in the third and then he'd break on another no-ad point to make it 4-1. Kelly came back from 30/40 down to hold on the no-ad point for 5-1 and then Griffith fought off a match point to hold on the no-ad point for 2-5. Kelly would serve it out from 40/30 with a forehand winner and with that the North Carolina was headed back to the NTI semifinals for the second year in a row.

 

 

The match at No. 1 was halted with Lakat leading Schneider 4-1 in the tiebreak however you've got to watch the clip from FloTennis of the opening point of the tiebreak - it made SportsCenter's Top 10! 

 

 

Ronnie Schneider post-match interview via UNC

Robert Kelly post-match interview via FloTennis

#5 North Carolina 4, #4 California 2
Feb 18, 2017 at Charlottesville, Va. (Boar's Head Sports Club)
Singles competition
1. #11 Florian Lakat (CAL) vs. #16 Ronnie Schneider (NC) 4-6 (4-1), 6-1, 6-6 (4-1), unfinished
2. #27 Andre Goransson (CAL) def. William Blumberg (NC) 2-6, 6-2, 6-2
3. Simon Soendergaard (NC) def. #42 Filip Bergevi (CAL) 6-4, 6-2
4. Robert Kelly (NC) def. #40 Billy Griffith (CAL) 6-4, 4-6, 6-2
5. Jack Murray (NC) def. Bjorn Hoffmann (CAL) 6-3, 3-6, 7-5
6. Blaine Boyden (NC) def. Connor Heap (CAL) 6-2, 7-5
Doubles competition
1. #3 Filip Bergevi/Florian Lakat (CAL) def. #21 William Blumberg/Robert Kelly (NC) 6-3
2. Andre Goransson/Billy Griffith (CAL) def. Jack Murray/Ronnie Schneider (NC) 6-3
3. Bjorn Hoffmann/J.T. Nishimura (CAL) vs. Blaine Boyden/Simon Soendergaard (NC) *5-4 (40/40), unf
Match Notes:
North Carolina 11-0; National ranking #5
California 4-1; National ranking #4
Order of finish: Doubles (1,2); Singles (3,6,2,5,4)
ITA National Team Indoor Championship Quarterfinals
T-2.50
 
Post-Match Quotes from Cal's recap
"Give credit to North Carolina for coming out with purpose after losing the doubles point," Cal head coach Peter Wright said. "They certainly put us on our heels by winning six first sets in singles. I think we did a very good job of fighting to get back into the match, but it wasn't enough today."
 

"We knew we'd eventually lose a match, but this one got away from us, so there is plenty go be gained," Wright said. "Everyone talks about our seniors, but remember two out of our six singles players today are freshmen and are learning on the job. As a team, we'll take this experience and benefit from it later in the season."

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North Carolina will next face Virginia in the semifinals after the Cavaliers hammered UCLA 4-0 in the quickest match of the weekend. Virginia's Collin Altamirano and JC Aragone jumped out to a 5-0 lead at No. 3 doubles in route to a 6-1 win and Thai-Son Kwiatkowski and Alex Ritschard would clinch the doubles point after Kwiatkowski served it out from 40/15 to win 6-3.  
 
Virginia took five of six first sets in singles and Kwiatkowski, Aragone, and Henrik Wiersholm would each cruise in straight sets with Kwiatkowski clinching the team win at No. 2. The match only took 1 hour and 40 minutes which beat the Ohio State/Oklahoma State match by 3 minutes. 
 
Brian Boland post-match interview via FloTennis
 

#1 Virginia 4, #7 UCLA 0
Feb 18, 2017 at Charlottesville, Va. (Boar's Head Sports Club)
Singles competition
1. Collin Altamirano (VA) vs. #73 Martin Redlicki (UCLA) 3-6, 2-4, unfinished
2. #28 Thai-Son Kwiatkowski (VA) def. #19 Gage Brymer (UCLA) 6-1, 6-2
3. Carl Soderlund (VA) vs. Evan Zhu (UCLA) 6-2, 5-3, unfinished
4. #64 J.C. Aragone (VA) def. Austin Rapp (UCLA) 6-3, 6-2
5. Alexander Ritschard (VA) vs. Logan Staggs (UCLA) 7-5, 1-1, unfinished
6. Henrik Wiersholm (VA) def. #112 Maxime Cressy (UCLA) 6-4, 6-1
Doubles competition
1. #55 Luca Corinteli/Carl Soderlund (VA) vs. #16 Martin Redlicki/Evan Zhu (UCLA) 4-4, unfinished
2. Thai-Son Kwiatkowski/Alexander Ritschard (VA) def. Gage Brymer/Maxime Cressy (UCLA) 6-3
3. Collin Altamirano/J.C. Aragone (VA) def. Austin Rapp/Ben Goldberg (UCLA) 6-1
Match Notes:
UCLA 7-2; National ranking #7
Virginia 7-0; National ranking #1
Order of finish: Doubles (3,2); Singles (4,6,2)
ITA National Team Indoor Championship Quarterfinals
T-1:40 A-787

Post-Match Quotes from Virginia's recap
"I thought that the difference today was that we came out with an incredible amount of energy in doubles," said Virginia head coach Brian Boland. "We executed really well and played with a lot of aggression, which made the difference for us in the doubles point. I believe we got off to a great start across the board in singles and the level of focus and energy we played with today was necessary against a great UCLA team. We will continue with that kind of focus tomorrow and really bring it. We know that North Carolina will do that as well. We have played them a number of times and we are really looking forward to doing it again."

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Read 1492 times Last modified on Sunday, 19 February 2017 03:05
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