Monday, 29 May 2017 21:01

Kwiatkowski & Minor Win Singles Titles, Harris/Papa & Di Lorenzo/Kowase Win Doubles Titles

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Virginia senior Thai-Son Kwiatkowski capped a tremendous collegiate career by becoming Virginia's fourth NCAA singles champion after defeating North Carolina freshman William Blumberg in straight sets. Kwiatkowski broke Blumberg in the opening game of the match but Blumberg managed to break back for 1-1. It stayed on serve until Kwiatkowski broke from 30/40 to go up 5-4 and then the Charlotte native served out the set to take it 6-4. In the second set Kwiatkowski broke for 2-1 but Blumberg broke back on the no-ad point to even it at 2-2. The set would end up going to a tiebreak and Kwiatkowski broke a 5-5 tie by winning the last two point to win the match 6-4, 7-6 (5). 

Kwiatkowski joins Ryan Shane (2015) and Somdev Devvarman (2007/2008) as Virginia's other NCAA singles champions. 

 

Thai 6969

 Photo by Bill Kallenberg (CapturedInAction.com)

Thai-Son Kwiatkowski, Virginia
On today’s match...“It still hasn’t sunk in yet, but I have so many emotions right now. I’m so happy with how I competed today. There were so many adversity moments before and after the match. Before the match I was almost crying with how nervous I was. Now I am happy and sad because I know that as soon as I get to the locker room and I take this shirt off, I’m not going to put it on and play in the orange and blue anymore. It’s a big, weird moment for me.”
 

On facing William Blumberg for the fourth time this season...I really wanted to get that team win for sure. It would have been a big boost and I wanted to do it for my team. Thank goodness the rest of the guys picked me up because Will really took it to me when we went indoors last week. Today I felt that the coaches gave me a really good game plan, one that was different than what we had before. I just went out and tried to fight as hard as I could. I tried to play one point at a time and it’s pretty amazing what happened out there.

On facing adversity...I have had so many demons in my life and it’s unbelievable to have this moment. This moment is only possible because of my coaches, my teammates, my parents, and countless other people. Just to have this success would not feel good at all if I was doing this by myself, but it feels really good in this moment because I get to share it with them. They care about me and that means everything.

On the final moments of the match...“How about that return? I’m very happy it went in. I tried to be very respectful to the UNC guys because Will had an incredible tournament. As a freshman to make it to the finals of the tournament and be MVP of the team tournament. You have the stats, it’s very impressive. The match could have easily gone his way today. He is very well coached. They have a loving team and that’s why they’re so successful in the team tournament because they have such a powerful love for each other. That’s credit to Sam Paul. For Will to be a freshman and lead his team like that and then come out here after the heartbreaking loss in the finals and crushing most of the guys he played is very impressive. I wanted to be respectful after the match and shake everyone’s hand before I laid down on the court and really absorbed the moment.”

 

 

William Blumberg, North Carolina
On the tennis atmosphere in Athens...“It’s incredible. I think that every one in four years, the finals should be here. To be honest, I didn’t really know that many people cared about college tennis when we were playing Georgia, and we actually came out on top. It’s be an incredible atmosphere and there have been so many people here, it’s been incredible.”

On facing Kwiatkowski four times this season...“Thai is obviously an awesome player. Full congrats to him. He’s American, and I’m happy for him. I’ll be there cheering him on at the U.S. Open. No excuses today, he played better than me. He’s a great player.”

On choosing North Carolina...“I think the best coaches in the country are at North Carolina. The team plays with so much heart and keeps fighting and that drew me to North Carolina.”

 
 
Michigan sophomore Brienne Minor became Michigan's first-ever NCAA singles champion after defeating Florida senior Belinda Woolcock in straight sets. Minor jumped out to a 4-0 lead in the opening set before Woolcock broke for 1-4. Minor broke back for 5-1 but Woolcock broke and held for 3-5. Minor managed to close out the set by holding on the no-ad point for 6-3. The second set began with three consecutive holds until Minor held for 3-1. It was all holds from there until Minor broke on the no-ad point to close it out 6-3, 6-3
 
Florida's recap has an interview with Woolcock. 
 
Brienne Minor, Michigan
On being a national champion...“It feels amazing, I’m still soaking it all in. When I threw my racket at the end of the match I just felt this wave of relief because I was just so happy I could get that win. I was super tired so I was excited to let that racket go and just be done with the match.”
 

On her mindset during individual competition...“My mindset changed during individuals because my nerves went away. During team competition I just want to get that point on the board for my team but once I got to individuals I just tried to have fun and play for myself. I never thought I would make it this far, but I took it one match at a time and here we are.”

On making history for Michigan...“I just feel so honored to represent such a great school. I love Michigan and I’m so glad I committed here. I wouldn’t want to be anywhere else.”

Belinda Woolcock, Florida
On today’s match...“Today was a challenge for me physically. Yesterday really took a lot out of me. I am so proud of myself considering I won all of my singles matches in the team event and to get this far in singles, I honestly didn’t really expect that because I put so much focus and energy into the team event. I am so incredibly proud of myself and happy about how I did today and how I did in the tournament.”

On being a senior in her last NCAA experience...“It is a bit emotional, you know being a senior and heading back home to Australia. I am so happy to end on such a high note. I know I didn’t win today, but the team stuff, deep down, is the most important to me. I don’t really care too much about winning a national title in singles. For me personally, I don’t get a wild card into the U.S. Open because I am a foreigner. This was just an opportunity to represent the Gators and to wear the Florida Gators across my chest one more time. I am just really proud of myself and of my team for the whole event.”

 
 
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 Photo by Bill Kallenberg (CapturedInAction.com)

 
Oklahoma senior Andrew Harris and junior Spencer Papa gave Oklahoma its first-ever NCAA doubles championship after defeating the top seeds from Georgia in a third set supertiebreak. Georgia sophomore Jan Zielinski and freshman Robert Loeb broke Harris to start the match and they made the break hold up and took the first set 6-4. Zielinski and Loeb jumped out to a 2-0 lead in the second set but Harris and Papa won six straight games to take the set 6-2. The third set supertiebreak was all OU as Harris and Papa jumped out to a 4-1 lead and then extended it to 9-4. Zielinski and Loeb pulled to within 9-6 but Harris and Papa closed it out on the next point to take it 4-6, 6-2, 10-6.
 
Andrew Harris/Spencer Papa, Oklahoma
Papa on today’s match...“I mean we had to pick up the energy. We needed a couple of games to get us the momentum, and that really helped us throughout the match. A little bit (in regards to seniority), but I mean it had to come from us. We had to pick it up, and we knew that was our only chance to come back down from a break in the second set. ”
 

Papa on playing in Athens...“Playing in front of the Georgia crowd for a national championship...I don’t think it gets better than that.”

Harris on playing against numerous ranked doubles teams...
“I mean we didn’t even look past the first round. We looked at the first round. In college tennis, doubles rankings mean absolutely nothing, like nothing. I mean obviously to an extent they do, they have the results, but in college anything can happen, two sets and a super tiebreak. We knew me and Spence had been playing well, we could beat anyone. That being said, we didn’t even look past the first round.”

Head Coach Nick Crowell, Oklahoma
On today’s match and being first season as head coach...“I mean you come in, in August, you kind of dream about things, and you kind of watch things. I watched this team compete last year in May in Tulsa, and really observed how these guys were and really hoped that one day I would have the opportunity to coach them, and early on in the season I told these guys that I was going to play them together because I thought they could make a run at the end, and they did so. These guys played so hard every day. It is all you can ask for.”

On playing the NCAA Championships in Athens...“I mean, I was just walking in the tent and actually thinking about that, and how it is going to be the last time we play here for at least five years, so you have to kind of savor this environment and there are not many places like this for tennis. Hopefully, Georgia will be able to get the championships back, you know after the run of four or five years, but I think it deserves to be here.”

 

 

Robert Loeb/Jan Zielinski, Georgia
Zielinski on today’s performance...“They started playing incredible and making every single return. Not missing any balls from the baseline, so it was pretty hard to do anything. I don’t think we started playing worse, they just started playing incredible. Well done.”

Zielinski on Oklahoma’s doubles team...“They earned it. They’re a great team. They won it. We’re just a freshman and sophomore making it to the finals of the NCAA Championships, so I’m looking forward to next year and playing with Robert. I can’t wait for next year.”

Loeb on today’s performance...“I thought I served pretty well, but they came up with some pretty good returns and what not. We kept feeling the pressure the whole time.”

Head Coach Manny Diaz, Georgia
On today’s performance...“We were impressive in the first set. We showed our inexperience a little bit. We became a little bit tentative. Robert never returned well today. He’s been very strong in that area all year. Just did not have a good day returning. Once Jan got broke, we kind of got swept. Their energy and momentum warped us a little bit. I was hoping we could make a stand there, but we seemed to never recover after that.”

On the future for Zielinski and Loeb...“This is all a learning experience for these guys. You can’t learn that other than going through what they just went through. We have a lot to be proud of. It sure has been a phenomenal ride, and they’ve shown what they’re capable of doing as a team, and they have a great future ahead of them. This one hurts.”

On hosting the NCAA Championships in Athens...“I’ve gotten tremendous feedback from all the coaches and the players. They feel like this is the best place to hold a tournament. That makes you feel good about what you’re doing when you’re hosting a tournament. Our community gets behind it like nobody else.”

 

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 Photo by Bill Kallenberg (CapturedInAction.com)

 
OU's recap has some highlights courtesy of the Playsight feed. 
Georgia's recap has some highlights.
 

 

Ohio State sophomore Francesca Di Lorenzo and senior Miho Kowase won the school's first-ever NCAA doubles championship with a three-set win over Alabama senior Erin Routliffe and freshman Maddie Pothoff. Routliffe and Pothoff jumped out to a 3-1 lead in the opening set but Di Lorenzo and Kowase would break back for 5-5. The set ended up in a tiebreak which Routliffe and Pothoff would take 8-6. Di Lorenzo and Kowase went up 2-0 to start the second set but Routliffe and Pothoff took the next three to go up 3-2. Di Lorenzo and Kowase came back to take the next three themselves to go up 5-3 and Di Lorenzo would serve the set out to take it 6-4.

In the third set supertiebreak, Di Lorenzo and Kowase led 3-0 but Routliffe and Pothoff tied it at 4-4. Routliffe and Pothoff went up 6-5 but Di Lorenzo and Kowase would take the next four to go up 9-6 and they'd ultimately win 10-7.

Francesca Di Lorenzo/Miho Kowase, Ohio State
Kowase on being a national champion...“It feels amazing, I still can’t believe it. Three years ago I watched my sister lose her last match here against Alabama. And I thought to myself, ‘I want revenge.’ Here I am two years later winning it.”

Di Lorenzo on being a national champion...“It’s pretty amazing, especially for Miho to end her career like this. She deserves it more than anybody else. She’s an unbelievable player, and I wouldn’t want to do this with anybody else especially because this is an unbelievable place to do it. For Miho to come back here and for us to be able to win it together feels incredible.”

Di Lorenzo on the momentum shift after the first set...“I think we let go of the nerves we had starting out. At the beginning our footwork was off and we were playing tight tennis, which is never good. They were serving really well and we were getting frustrated, so once we calmed down and took it point by point, doing what we really do best, we started executing much better.”

Ohio State head coach Melissa Schaub
On the Di Lorenzo/Kowase duo...“I think what makes them so special is shown in their answers--they really play for each other. At this point in the tournament, everyone’s basically running on fumes. We’ve been here for awhile now and experienced some heartbreak in the team tournament, so to be able to finish it off and watch these two do it together is incredible. They’re such a special group, a special team. They’re incredibly resilient and you can tell because we didn’t have a great start. Alabama is an unbelievable team, so you never know how it’s going to be when you step on the court. I think we definitely had chances, especially in the first tiebreaker when it was tied 5-5, but we weren’t playing our best tennis. Once we were down 3-2 in the second set, we really started to push back and ended up winning it. But once you go into a 10-point tiebreaker you really never know what is going to happen. We started off with a 3-0 lead and honestly that was a huge part of our win today.”

Maddie Pothoff/Erin Routliffe, Alabama
Pothoff on today’s match...“We knew going into it that they were a really tough team. I mean, they made it to the finals and they have had some really good wins. We knew we had to be aggressive from the start. We were just a little nervous at first, but we did a great job taking the first set. They came back; we knew they weren’t going to give up. We came up a little bit short today, but hats off to them for playing a great match.”

Pothoff on her NCAA experience as a whole...“It has been amazing. My partner actually won it her first two years playing here, so that was a little added pressure going into it for me. It has been so much fun playing with her. She is a vet out here, and I think she is the best doubles player out here. It has just been so much fun and Athens is the best place to host NCAA Championships. It really has just been a ton of fun.”

 

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 Photo by Bill Kallenberg (CapturedInAction.com)

 
Men's Singles Final 
#14 [9-16] Thai-Son Kwiatkowski (VIRGINIA) def. #16 [9-16] William Blumberg (NORTH CAROLINA) 6-4, 7-6 (5)
 
Women's Final
#24 Brienne Minor (MICHIGAN) def. #6 [6] Belinda Woolcock (FLORIDA) 6-3, 6-3
 
Men's Doubles Final
#15 Andrew Harris/Spencer Papa (OKLA) def. #1 [1] Robert Loeb/Jan Zielinski (UGA) 4-6, 6-2, 10-6
 
Women's Doubles Final
#18 Francesca Di Lorenzo/Miho Kowase (OHIO STATE) def. #5 [5] Maddie Pothoff/Erin Routliffe (ALABAMA) 6-7 (6), 6-4, 10-7
 
 
 
Read 1450 times Last modified on Monday, 29 May 2017 23:09

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