Sunday, 19 May 2019 04:25

NCAA Semifinals Recap: Texas Takes Out Florida; Wake Outlasts North Carolina; Stanford Stumps North Carolina; Georgia Clips Duke

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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.

Florida sophomore Oliver Crawford put the first point on the board for the Gators after a 6-4, 6-3 win over Christian Sigsgaard at No. 1. Crawford came back from 4-2 down in the first set, with a key break on the deciding point for 4-4, by taking five of the next six games and then in the second set he led 5-1 before closing it out 6-3.

Florida sophomore Andy Andrade made it 3-2 with a 7-6(4), 6-4 win over Colin Markes at No. 5. Markes was up a break at 3-1 in the first set but after Andrade got it back on serve at 3-3 Markes would break again for 4-3. Andrade broke back and held for 5-4 and after a few more holds would open up a 5-1 lead in the tiebreak and take it 7-4. In the second set after an early swap of breaks, Andrade broke from 30/40 to go up 5-4 and then he served it out from 40/15.

Florida needed both of the remaining matches and while they looked good on one of the courts Texas was in control of the other.  

Florida senior Alfredo Perez had come back from a set down to take a 3-1 lead in the final set against Harrison Scott at No. 4 but Texas senior Leo Telles was nearing the finish line at No. 3. 

Telles broke Florida junior Johannes Ingildsen to take an early 2-1 lead in the first set but Ingildsen would get back on serve at 4-4. Ingildsen tried to consolidate the break but despite going up 40/15 Telles would break on the deciding point for 5-4. Ingildsen was on the verge of breaking back after going up 0/40 but Telles took the next four points to close out the set 6-4.  

Ingildsen went ahead 3-1 in the second set but Telles got a key break on the deciding point to put it back on serve at 3-2. Telles came back from 30/40 down to hold for 3-3 and then a few games later he'd break from 30/40 to go in front 6-5. Ingildsen won the next point for 0/15 but Telles took four of the next five to close it out and send Texas back to the finals for the second time in school with a 6-4, 7-5 win. 

The match at No. 4 went unfinished with Scott serving at 3-3. 

As an unfortunate side note - the PlaySight live stream went completely down near the end of Ingildsen's 5-5 service game and didn't come back up until after the match was over so unless you were there you didn't get to see what happened. 

  

Texas junior Yuya Ito
On the pressure of expecations being the ITA’s No. 12-ranked singles player and playing No. 2, where he is expected to win:
At No. 2, in this point of the tournament, any team has a very good No. 2. Every time I step onto the court, it’s tough, I just have to do what I can do; I can only control what I can do. I try to take care of my business. It turned out well today. Hopefully I can keep that going.

Texas senior Leonardo Telles
On closing out his clinching match from 5-all in the second set:
It’s more of just trusting myself in those moments. I saw it was going to come down to me and Harry [Harrison Scott]. I didn’t really know much about what was going on the other courts aside from that. It was more about trusting myself and knowing I’ve worked all year for this. I was going to be ready for that moment.

Texas Interim Head Coach Bruce Berque
On his team’s hot start in singles and doubles:
The guys handled the moment terrific. I told them after the match that we’ve been consistent with the way we played every match, with the way we competed. Every time we went out there and did it, we were preparing ourselves for this moment and reinforcing only good competitive habits, and they were ready. They earned it and they prepared all year and they continued to do what they have been doing.

On the advantage of having a veteran team:
It helps for sure. In our singles lineup today, we had two juniors at No. 1 and No. 2 and the rest down the line were seniors. You saw the results of that. It’s not only that, it’s the way they do it. I couldn’t be prouder of the way all of our guys competed today, but especially Leo [Leonardo Telles] at the end was amazing. It was a seesaw match, there were ups and downs. He stayed the course the whole time. He was as competitive and tough as he could possibly be, against a very good, tough competitor and a very good, tough Florida team. I couldn’t have been prouder of Leo, but it’s not the first time he’s done it. He’s done that three or four times this year, so it’s nice to see him do it once again.

On stepping in as head coach in the middle of the season and leading the team to success:
I don’t think it has much to do with me. Well, it’s not about me. It’s about the team, it’s about these guys. I don’t feel any special sense of pride because it’s me out there. I’m just happy that these guys are representing Texas well. I’m really proud of these guys that they get to be proud, they earned it.

Florida Head Coach Bryan Shelton
On whether the slow start put his team in too deep of a hole to finish the comeback:
I think so. Texas did a nice job today in the critical stages of matches. We always say that the first 20 minutes of singles, you really want to try to set the tone, and I thought that Texas did a great job of that, coming out aggressively. They took some momentum from the doubles. I think our guys were up for the fight, that’s what you saw, us continuing to stay in there and us continuing to battle until the end.

I thought that if we could get them deep, I felt like we had a good chance. In the heat, extending the matches a little bit longer and continuing to play, then we’d have our chances. They did a good job at stepping up at the right times and executing.

On stationing himself on court No. 3 for most of the match:
It was just one of those things, you kind of read what’s going on throughout the six-court layout and you see where you think that you can turn the match in your favor. I felt like in the middle of court No. 3 and No. 4, even though we lost those first sets, those were the key spots for us. At No. 2, the guy was just too hot, playing too well. We knew that was going to be their best slot.

For us, we knew we had to be really tough in the middle of our lineup at No. 3, No. 4 and No. 5. We know we’ve got one of the best No. 1s in the country, so we felt comfortable there. We just needed to do a little bit better in the middle.

On the impact of mentor Bill Tym:
Well I think that he instilled a lot of good things in me, as far as what it takes to become successful. He always said that the difference between successful people and people who aren’t is that successful people are willing to do things that unsuccessful people won’t do.

We try to find ways with our guys on our team, our coaching staff, to differentiate ourselves from the pack. One of those things that can all of the sudden help us and gain an advantage over... it’s a global game, this game is not just going on in the United States, it’s going on everywhere. So our guys keep a journal to write those things down that they’re working on, have goals that they’re setting for themselves, doing the little things daily, taking care of their bodies before, after and during. Just trying to find separators. There are so many good college teams out there, they’re all there recruiting the best talent, and making deals out there.

For us, we’ve got to develop, we’ve got to bring in great student-athletes and find ways to develop a little bit quicker. I think Coach Tym, he instilled that for sure. He instilled how to problem-solve. We want to each our guys that there are answers out there, even though we got off to a slow start in the singles, don’t panic. It’s a test. You’ve got two hours to complete the test. There are a lot of problems that these teams are throwing out at us. Let’s use our brains and figure out how we can adjust and get to the finish line.

On his final message to his team:
It’s been a heck of a run. Our guys have invested in one another, they’ve worked extremely hard together, they’ve built relationship that will last a lifetime. We have two seniors on this team and I know our guys, I saw them all crying after the match. That wasn’t because we lost, it was because those seniors will no longer be with us moving forward. I think that’s the hardest thing- but just certainly super, super proud of these guys. I think they’ll remember this championship, they’ll remember this season, not just for the wins and the success but because of the unity we had and the chemistry that we had and the work we put in and the tough losses, I think we had four or five throughout the year. But also, remembering the success we had and how we bounced back and the resilience. These are things that are going to help these guys for the rest of their lives and memories they’ll take with them forever.

On what the missing ingredient is to get Florida to its first NCAA final:
We’ve got to continue to work. We’ve got to improve in a lot of different areas. One of the areas I saw today that stood out, we still are not serving effectively enough, especially on the big points. We’re having to come up with ridiculous ground strokes or volleys or something else, and those guys were getting more free points on their serves. I think that’s an area we’ve got to continue to work on. This game is still a lot about first strike. We can get better with first-strike tennis, get better with our serves and our returns.

I felt like our team was super fit this season and worked hard to get there, so I think that element is in place. This is the first time that this team has made it to the Final 4. I can’t really talk about other teams in the past, all we can look at is what we have in front of us right now and the guys we have on our squad right now. I love our guys. The guys that are coming back are coming back better than ever. We’ve got some great ones coming in and so the future is bright. These guys have built a culture that is based around doing things the right way, with integrity. I know we will continue to fight on.

#2 Texas 4, #3 Florida 2
May 18, 2019 at Orlando, Fla. (USTA National Campus)
Singles Competition
1. #9 Oliver Crawford (UF) def. #7 Christian Sigsgaard (UT) 6-4, 6-3
2. #12 Yuya Ito (UT) def. #54 Sam Riffice (UF) 6-2, 6-2
3. #80 Leonardo Telles (UT) def. #113 Johannes Ingildsen (UF) 6-4, 7-5
4. #55 Harrison Scott (UT) vs. Alfredo Perez (UF) 6-4, 3-6, *3-3 (15/0), unfinished
5. #59 Andres Andrade (UF) def. Colin Markes (UT) 7-6 (7-4), 6-4
6. Rodrigo Banzer (UT) def. McClain Kessler (UF) 6-2, 6-4
Doubles Competition
1. #5 Christian Sigsgaard/Harrison Scott (UT) def. Johannes Ingildsen/McClain Kessler (UF) 6-3
2. Colin Markes/Leonardo Telles (UT) vs. Oliver Crawford/Alfredo Perez (UF) *5-6 (40/40), unfinished
3. Chih Chi Huang/Yuya Ito (UT) def. Duarte Vale/Andres Andrade (UF) 7-6 (7-1)
Match Notes:
Florida 25-4; National ranking #4
Texas 28-3; National ranking #2
Order of finish: Doubles (1,3); Singles (2,6,1,5,3)
T-2:32

 

 

Wake Forest advanced to the finals for the second year in a row with a 4-3 win over No. 9 North Carolina.

The Demon Deacons dropped the doubles point for the fourth match in a row after UNC picked up wins at No. 2 and No. 3.

The Tar Heel duo of Simon Soendergaard and Mac Kiger improved to 20-2 with a win at No. 3 over Sid Banthia and Melios Efstathiou. UNC went up an early break at 2-1 however Wake would get a break on the deciding point for 3-3. UNC broke back from 15/40 and then held at love for 5-3. After a Wake hold on the deciding point, UNC held from 40/30 to win it 6-4. 

Wake's Alan Gadjiev and Borna Gojo got the Deacs back in it with a win at No. 1 over Will Blumberg and Bo Boyden. Wake broke on the deciding point to go up 3-1 and it'd be all holds the rest of the way in the 6-3 win. 

UNC's Brian Cernoch and Ben Sigouin never trailed in their match at No. 2 against Wake's Petros Chrysochos and Bar Botzer. UNC broke from 30/40 to go up 3-1, and despite Wake breaking back on the deciding point for 3-2, UNC would re-establish its break lead with a deciding point break for 4-2. After an exchange of holds, which included Wake fighting off a match point at 2-5 (40/40), Sigouin would come back from 15/40 down to hold on the deciding point to seal the 6-3 win. 

Each team would take three opening sets in singles, with none of them closer than 6-4, and all but one of the matches would finish in straight sets. 

Wake senior Petros Chrysochos knotted the match at 1-1, and improved to 23-2 on the year, with a straight set win over Ben Sigouin at No. 2 singles. Chrysochos earned the only break of the first set, when he broke Sigouin's 4-4 service game from 30/40, and then he served out the set from 40/15 to take it 6-4. Chrysochos jumped out to a 2-0 lead in the second set and would add a second break to go up 4-1. Sigouin broke back for 4-2 but Chrysochos would return the favor and then serve it out from 40/30 to win 6-4, 6-2. 

Wake sophomore Bar Botzer put the Deacs in front after winning his 12th straight match with a straight set win over Josh Peck at No. 3. Botzer jumped out to a 3-0 lead in the first set but Peck took the next three to even it at 3-3. After three more holds, Botzer would break on the deciding point to take the first set 6-4. The second set was all one-way traffic with Botzer going up 5-0 and closing out the match 6-4, 6-1. 

UNC freshman Brian Cernoch won for the ninth time in his last ten matches with a straight set win over Rrezart Cungu at No. 4. Cernoch broke Cungu to start the match and would add a second break to go up 4-1. Cungu broke back on the deciding point and then held on the deciding point for 4-3 but Cernoch held and then broke from 30/40 to take the opening set 6-3. In the second set, Cernoch broke Cungu from 30/40 to go up 3-1 and it'd be all holds the rest of the way with Cernoch closing it out 6-3, 6-3. 

Wake freshman Sid Banthia put the Deacs up 3-2 with a straight set win at No. 6 over Simon Soendergaard. Banthia came into the match with an 0-2 record against UNC this season, which included a loss to Mac Kiger, however it was Soendergaard who got the call to play at No. 6. The first set stayed on serve until Banthia broke Soendergaard's 4-5 service game from 15/40 to take it 6-4. In the second set, Banthia broke Soendergaard on the deciding point for 4-2 and after an exchange of holds it'd be 5-3. Soendergaard went up 15/40 on Banthia's final service game but the Wake freshman fought off all three break points to close it out 6-2, 6-3. 

UNC senior Bo Boyden upped his winning streak to 10 and tied the match at 3-3 with a straight set win over Melios Efstathiou at No. 5 singles. Boyden rolled through the first set and took it 6-2 and then in the second he broke on the deciding point for 3-2. A few games later Boyden held on the deciding point for 5-3 and he'd close out Efstathiou with a break on the deciding point to take it 6-2, 6-3. 

The deciding match at No. 1 singles between Wake junior Borna Gojo and UNC freshman Will Blumberg would be decided in a third set. Gojo and Blumberg had already played a pair of three setters this year with Gojo taking both however Blumberg struck first in the final frame with a break on the deciding point for 1-0. Gojo broke back from 30/40 to even it at 1-1 and then held on the deciding point for 2-1. After a Blumberg hold for 2-2, Gojo came back from 15/40 down to hold for 3-2. Gojo broke Blumberg from 30/40 to go up 4-2 and then held from 40/15 for 5-2. Gojo was right there at the finish line but Blumberg would make it tough to cross after fighting off a match point to hold for 3-5. Gojo went up 40/15, which brought up three more match points, but Blumberg would erase the first two to bring up a huge deciding point. Blumberg would be unable to fight off a fourth match point and Gojo closed it out with a service winner to take it 4-6, 6-2, 6-3. 

 

Wake Forest junior Borna Gojo
On clinching the last two matches for his team at the NCAA Championships:
I don’t think the clinch is that special, because there’s three more guys that won for us. It’s always a team effort. Plus, two matches happened that I lost the first set, so I had to battle back. Again, my teammates are the ones who put me in the position and our team to win. I’m grateful for the great team I have. I’m happy I was able to win it and give us the opportunity tomorrow for the championship.

On the match against UNC’s Blumberg, who he now holds a 3-0 record against this season:
It’s always been a tough match, it’s always three sets. I know he’s a great player. It’s always about giving it my all out there and that’s what I did today. Sometimes it turns your side, sometimes it doesn’t. But I’m happy it was my side today. I was really happy 20 minutes ago but now I’m thinking about Texas.

On the championship match against Texas:
We haven’t had time to discuss it yet. They’re obviously a great team if they’re in the finals. Again, it’s going to take a team effort tomorrow. These are the moments we work for all year. This is why we’re here. We’re going to enjoy it tomorrow, definitely.

Wake Forest Head Coach Tony Bresky
On the championship match against Texas:
Obviously Texas is having a great tournament, a great season. We haven’t played them this year. The only time we saw them was at National Indoors. I know they have a bunch of really good players. Like Borna [Gojo] said, I think we really enjoyed that win for a solid 15 minutes and it’s back to business: ice baths, dinner and rest, and do some scouting and get some notes. Same warm-up tomorrow, same thing we always do. Like I said, I obviously don’t know as much about them as I did North Carolina and Virginia. But, we’ll be ready to battle for sure.

North Carolina Head Coach Sam Paul
On the effort from senior Will Blumberg at No. 1 singles:
He’s always done that, his whole career. I just want to say congratulations to Wake Forest, they played a great match. And Borna [Gojo], who stepped up there at the end, he didn’t miss a first serve, he played really well and a great third set. Congratulations to them and best of luck in the final tomorrow.

On the season coming to an end:
Our guys were pretty upset. I just love my team. The sad thing is this is the last time Bo Boyden can play team tennis. He’s in the individual tournament here, but he’s been one of the best players we’ve ever had. He represented our university... great academically, great leader, tremendous work ethic. So I feel bad for him, that he won’t have this opportunity again, but he’s had an incredible career. The sad thing is it has to end sometime, right?

What a ride we’ve had the last two weeks. To have to play Georgia in the regional, that’s not an easy thing to do. Then go across the country and play USC at USC, and then come here and upset the No. 1 seed in Ohio State. Lot of positives. Credit to Wake Forest, they played a great match today.

As the men and women competed side-by-side
It’s great. Carolina tennis had a great year. I didn’t know the score until they said that Stanford had won over the speaker. Both teams get along great. It’s been a really good tournament for both of us.

#4 Wake Forest 4, #9 North Carolina 3
May 18, 2019 at Orlando, Fla. (USTA National Campus)
Singles Competition
1. #11 Borna Gojo (WF) def. #19 William Blumberg (UNC) 4-6, 6-2, 6-3
2. #8 Petros Chrysochos (WF) def. #39 Benjamin Sigouin (UNC) 6-4, 6-2
3. #50 Bar Botzer (WF) def. #110 Josh Peck (UNC) 6-4, 6-1
4. #116 Brian Cernoch (UNC) def. Rrezart Cungu (WF) 6-3, 6-3
5. Blaine Boyden (UNC) def. Melios Efstathiou (WF) 6-2, 6-3
6. Siddhant Banthia (WF) def. Simon Soendergaard (UNC) 6-4, 6-3
Doubles Competition
1. #63 Alan Gadjiev/Borna Gojo (WF) def. #13 William Blumberg/Blaine Boyden (UNC) 6-3
2. #90 Brian Cernoch/Benjamin Sigouin (UNC) def. #55 Petros Chrysochos/Bar Botzer (WF) 6-3
3. Simon Soendergaard/Mac Kiger (UNC) def. Siddhant Banthia/Melios Efstathiou (WF) 6-4
Match Notes:
North Carolina 22-7; National ranking #10
Wake Forest 34-3; National ranking #3
Order of finish: Doubles (3,1,2); Singles (2,3,4,6,5,1)
T-2:51

 

Stanford advanced to the finals for the fourth year in a row, and knocked No. 2 North Carolina out of the NCAAs for a third year in a row, with a 5-2 win. The Cardinal grabbed the early lead after taking the doubles point for the first time in three matches while North Carolina, which had been 31-0 in doubles, dropped the point for the second match in a row. 

Stanford had to make a late substitution at No. 3 doubles, because Niluka Madurawe was unavailable (injury?), so Janice Shin played with Melissa Lord and the duo which hadn't played together since the fall ended up being the first off the court with a 6-3 win over Alle Sanford and Sara Daavettila. 

North Carolina answered at No. 2 doubles as Makenna Jones and Cameron Morra defeated Emily Arbuthnott and Michaela Gordon 6-4 but a few moments later Stanford's Kimberly Yee and Caroline Lampl would get the clincher at No. 1. The Cardinal duo served it out from 40/30 to defeat UNC's Alexa Graham and Jessie Aney 6-4 which was just the third loss of the season for the ITA's No. 2 ranked doubles team. 

Stanford was forced to make another change to its lineup with this change coming at No. 6 singles. Emma Higuchi, who had won 13 of her past 14 matches was also unavailable, so off the bench came freshman Sara Choy who had only appeared in two dual-matches all season going 1-1. 

It wouldn't take long for Choy to knock off the rust because she quickly jumped out to a 3-1* lead on Alle Sanford while senior teammates Melissa Lord and Caroline Lampl also took early break leads at No. 2 and No. 3. 

Each team would end up taking three first sets but the first two off the court would be Lord and Choy to give Stanford a 3-0 lead. 

Lord picked up her 100th career singles victory with an impressive straight set win at No. 2 singles over ITA No. 7 Alexa Graham. Lord won a quick 6-1 first set but Graham went up a break at 3-2 in the second. Lord then reeled off four straight games, including a service hold at love, to win it 6-1, 6-3. The win was Lord's 14th in her past 15 matches with 13 of those coming in straight sets while Graham lost for just the third time on the season. 

Choy would make it 3-0 after following up a close first set with a dominating second set. Choy extended her 3-1 lead in the opening set to 5-3 but Sanford held and then broke on the deciding point for 5-5. Choy broke back on a deciding point for 6-5 and then served out the set from 40/15 to take it 7-5. In the second set, Sanford held for 1-0 but then Choy won the next six games, including two that went to the deciding point, to close it out 7-5, 6-1. 

Stanford senior Caroline Lampl cruised through the opening set at No. 3 taking it 6-1, and she'd serve for the match at 5-4 in the second, however UNC junior Sara Daavettila would break from 15/40 to even it at 5-5. Daavettila held for 6-5 and then broke Lamp from 30/40 to force a third set. 

Meanwhile next door at No. 4 singles, UNC freshman Cameron Morra would put the Tar Heels on the board with a straight set win over Emily Arbuthnott. Morra took the opening set 6-3 and then went up a break to start the second set. Arbuthnott took the next four games, two on the deciding point, to go up 4-1 but Morra won the final five games, four of which came on the deciding point, to win it 6-3, 6-4. 

Back at No. 3, Lampl would break Daavettila to start the third set but the UNC junior countered with the next three to go up 3-1. After an exchange of breaks, Daavettila held for 5-2 and then broke at love to win it 1-6, 7-5, 6-2. The win was the 13th in Daavettila's last 14 matches while the loss was the first of the year for Lampl who entered with a 21-0 record. 

North Carolina needed both of the remaining matches to pull out a win but Stanford was already up breaks in both spots and it would turn into a race of who would clinch first. 

Stanford sophomore Janice Shin dropped her opening set at No. 5 singles to UNC senior Jessie Aney 6-3 but Shin bounced back in the second set and broke from 15/40 to take it 6-4. In the third set, Shin broke Aney from 15/40 to go up 3-1 and after a love hold and another break it'd be 5-1. 

At the top spot in the lineup, Stanford sophomore Michaela Gordon had dropped her opening set to UNC junior Makenna Jones 6-4 but Gordon earned a split by taking the second set 6-3. Gordon broke at love to start the third set but Jones broke back on the deciding point to tie it at 1-1. Gordon broke from 30/40 to go up 2-1 and then she came back from 15/40 down to hold on the deciding point for 3-1. Gordon would hold on another deciding point for 4-2 and after three consecutive holds she'd serve for the match up 5-4. 

Shin failed to serve it out at No. 5 but she quickly went up 30/40 on Aney's next service game. Aney fought off the first match point with an ace and then thought she had another ace for the hold but Shin called it wide and the chair confirmed. Aney argued the call for a good 60 seconds which gave Michaela Gordon a chance to potentially clinch first at No. 1 after she went up 40/0. 

Aney would end up double faulting the match to Shin and seconds later Gordon would serve it out at love to make the final score 5-2. 

Stanford sophomore Michaela Gordon
On her awareness of the simultaneous match points:
For me, I wasn’t really aware of it. I was really just trying to focus on my own court. I could hear all of the cheering and I knew that Janice [Shin] was doing really well, but I didn’t want to think about it, I just wanted to focus on my own match.

On how she found success on the deuce points:
I was really just being brave on the big points. I kind of amped up my aggression, and I think that’s what really helped me out in those big points and helped me get the edge there.

On the advantage of coming in as defending champs:
Just based on our matches before, we always have the confidence, no matter what we’re seeded. Also, the closeness of the team and the team atmosphere... we have so much belief in each other. No matter if we’re seeded No. 3 or No. 13 or whatever it is, we always know we can do well if we do our games.

Stanford sophomore Janice Shin
On her awareness of the simultaneous match points:
We all hopefully want to clinch and that’s something we all strive to do, but we all want to make sure we take care of our match and not let that chance away, so we try to focus on getting our point.

On figuring out her opponent Jessie Aney’s slice- and-dice game:
Her game is very interesting. It’s not a lot of pace, so I have to make it all on my own. It kind of got in my head that I had to set up the entire point to hopefully reach my goal of finishing off the point the way I wanted to. So that was my goal, to finish the point the way I wanted to.

Stanford Head Coach Lele Forood
On whether she felt the tide turning as North Carolina made their comeback:
It’s really unusual in a semifinal match, to think you’re going to get through it and not have some sort of counterattack from the other team. These are very good teams, of course they are going to come back and make their push. They did a really nice job. They forced the three matches to three sets; that was a big deal. Of course, these guys [Gordon and Chin] both lost their first sets. But they also dug back in for the second sets and did a really nice job to get to a position where they could finish for us.

UNC Head Coach Brian Kalbas
On losing the doubles point:
We were very hesitant and made some very questionable early decisions on some things, even on who to serve or where to serve. We were so passive and we didn’t play the way we had been working on all year. We’ve been a really aggressive team, in singles and doubles, but especially in doubles.

We dug ourselves a hole, 4-0 in No. 1 doubles and then No. 3 doubles got down. We had so many opportunities early to establish momentum and we didn’t do it. When doubles came back and had the chance to gain momentum, any time we felt like we could get a leg up in doubles it didn’t happen.

There’s a fine line in doubles, with no-ad and one set.You don’t really have a lot of opportunities to work a lot and game planning in it, if you don’t have the intensity and execution early, it kind of steamrolls for you. We didn’t have that same go-get-it mentality and that aggressive mentality that we’ve had all year.

On the final two matches, at No. 1 and No. 5 singles:
At one point, it looked like we could actually win those two matches on the court, potentially in straight sets. But credit to Stanford, when big wins needed to be had, they stepped up. They hit some really good serves, they played aggressively, they played their strengths, and they broke us down a little bit in those situations.

We extended the match at least an hour and a half from when it was 3-0. You could tell the Stanford coaching and staff was getting nervous; they sensed we were coming on and that the momentum was turning, and that’s credit to our team. We’re 33-2, we’ve only two lost matches, but every single match we’ve played, even the ones we’ve lost, the fight and spirit has been there and I couldn’t be prouder of our team.

On UNC’s men's and women's teams competing in Final Four:
Obviously, the only school to have both teams here in the final eight and then both teams playing in the Final Four simultaneously. It’s amazing. Carolina tennis is something that we pride ourselves on, we support each other. I’m so proud with Sam [men’s head coach Sam Paul] and the team and what they’ve done. They had some injuries early on and some really tough, close losses. But they’re really playing the best tennis right now, when it really matters. It reminds me of the team that got to the finals a few years ago. Both teams are really close-knit, they get along really well, they support each other. It’s really a neat opportunity for us to cheer for each other and root for each other.

#3 Stanford 5, #2 North Carolina 2
May 18, 2019 at Orlando, Fla. (USTA National Campus)
Singles Competition
1. #24 Michaela Gordon (STAN) def. #5 Makenna Jones (NC) 4-6, 6-3, 6-4
2. #29 Melissa Lord (STAN) def. #7 Alexa Graham (NC) 6-1, 6-3
3. #20 Sara Daavettila (NC) def. #66 Caroline Lampl (STAN) 1-6, 7-5, 6-2
4. #46 Cameron Morra (NC) def. #44 Emily Arbuthnott (STAN) 6-3, 6-4
5. #108 Janice Shin (STAN) def. Jessie Aney (NC) 3-6, 6-4, 6-2
6. #119 Sara Choy (STAN) def. Alle Sanford (NC) 7-5, 6-1
Doubles Competition
1. #19 Kimberly Yee/Caroline Lampl (STAN) def. #2 Alexa Graham/Jessie Aney (NC) 6-4
2. #12 Makenna Jones/Cameron Morra (NC) def. #29 Emily Arbuthnott/Michaela Gordon (STAN) 6-4
3. Melissa Lord/Janice Shin (STAN) def. Alle Sanford/Sara Daavettila (NC) 6-3
Match Notes:
Stanford 27-1; National ranking #3
North Carolina 33-2; National ranking #2
Order of finish: Doubles (3,2,1); Singles (2,6,4,3,5,1)
Singles courts one and five finished at the same time
T-3:25

 

The final match of the night at the USTA National Campus definitely had several wild swings but at 19 minutes past 10 pm eastern it ended with top seed Georgia advancing to the finals for the fourth time in school history with 4-2 win over No. 5 Duke. 

The Bulldogs won the doubles point for the 21st time in 27 attempts after picking up wins at No. 1 and No. 2. UGA's Lourdes Carle and Katarina Jokic were off the court first at No. 1 with a straight forward 6-2 win over Kelly Chen and Ellyse Hamlin. The clinching match at No. 2 would be anything but straight forward with Vivian Wolff and Elena Christofi coming back from a single break 4-1 deficit to defeat Meible Chi and Kaitlyn McCarthy 6-4. The match at No. 3 went unfinished with UGA's Meg Kowalski and Marta Gonzalez serving for the match up 5-3 (30/15). 

There were a lot of lopsided opening sets in singles with each team winning three. 

Georgia sophomore Katarina Jokic extended the Bulldogs lead to 2-0 with a straight set win over Maria Mateas at No. 1. Jokic won the first eight games of the match and had a game point for 6-0, 3-0 but Mateas broke, held, and broke to take her first lead at 3-2. Jokic broke back, held, and then broke again to go up 5-3 but Mateas broke at love to put it back on serve at 5-4. Mateas had a game point for 5-5 but she double faulted on the deciding point to give Jokic the 6-0, 6-4 win.  

Duke sophomore Kelly Chen put the Blue Devils on the board at No. 3 with a straight set win over Lourdes Carle. Chen won the first set 6-2 but Carle went up 3-1 in the second. Chen won the next three games to go ahead 4-3 but Carle held and broke to give herself a chance to serve for the set up 5-4. Chen broke from 30/40 to even it at 5-5, and then after a quick hold, she'd break from 30/40 to win it 6-2, 7-5.

It looked like Duke junior Meible Chi would tie it up when she led Marta Gonzalez 6-1, 5-1* (30/40) however the Bulldog junior would come roaring back to even it at 5-5 which included fighting off two more break points when Chi served at 5-2. Chi broke at love for 6-5 but Gonzalez broke back from 30/40 to force a tiebreak. Gonzalez jumped out to a 4-1 lead in the tiebreak and despite losing four of the next five points would win it 7-5 to force a third set. 

Duke senior Ellyse Hamlin tied the match at 2-2 after winning for the 15th time in her last 16 matches with a tough straight set win over Elena Christofi at No. 5. Hamlin won the first set 6-2 and went up 2-0 in the second before Christofi won two straight  to even it at 2-2. Hamlin held and broke for 4-2 but Christofi broke on the deciding point to put it back on serve at 4-3. Hamlin broke back from 15/40 to go up 5-3 but Christofi broke from 30/40 and held from 40/30 to tie it at 5-5. Christofi broke again and served for the set but Hamlin broke on the deciding point to force a tiebreak. Christofi led 4-2 at the changeover and she'd have a pair of set points at 6-4 however Hamlin would roar back and win the final four points to close out the match 6-2, 7-6(6). 

Georgia sophomore Vivian Wolff was trying to give Georgia its third point but she was having trouble reaching the finish line against Duke senior Kaitlyn McCarthy at No. 4. Wolff came back from a break down in the opening set to take it 6-3 and in the second set she went up a break at 4-3 after winning a deciding point. Wolff held on the deciding point for 5-3 but McCarthy held and then fought off a match point to break on the deciding point for 5-5. Wolff broke back on the deciding point for 6-5 but once against she'd be unable to serve it out with McCarthy breaking from 15/40 to force a tiebreak. 

McCarthy took an early 3-1 lead in the tiebreak but Wolff won five of the next six points to have a pair of match points at *6-4. McCarthy fought them both off to even it at 6-6 but Wolff went up a mini-break at 7-6 to bring up another match point. McCarthy erased it with a forehand winner but Wolff earned another with an overhead smash at the net. McCarthy tied it at 8-8 with a forehand winner but followed it up with a shanked backhand to give Wolff a sixth match point. Wolff would finally close it out 10-8 after McCarthy's forehand just missed wide and now the Bulldogs were on the door step of heading back to the finals for the first time in 19 years. The win was the 20th straight for Wolff who is now 24-1 in dual-match play. 

By this time Georgia freshman Meg Kowalski, who was 20-1 on the year, had opened up a 4-1 lead in the final set at No. 6 singles against fellow freshman Margaryta Bilokin. Kowalski had a break point for 5-1 but Bilokin held on the deciding point and then broke to put it back on serve at 4-3. Kowalski broke back to go up 5-3, and then she'd have a match point on the deciding point, but Bilokin broke after a Kowalski forehand missed wide. Bilokin went up 30/0 in her next service game but three straight points by Kowalski brought up another match point. Bilokin fought off the first with a forehand winner but she couldn't fight off the second with her forehand missing long to give Kowalski the match clinching 7-5, 5-7, 6-4 win. 

Georgia freshman Meg Kowalski
On what makes her so tough in final sets:
“I don’t think it’s me getting me through matches, I think it’s my teammates. Being able to look down on the courts and see my teammates have my back and rooting for me, it’s definitely what pulled me through these last few days.”

On helping Georgia get to the championship match:
“It’s so incredible. I know we’re all so excited for tomorrow. We’ve worked so hard to get this point. We’re ready to finish it off with a good day tomorrow.”

On being a comfortable and confident freshman on the team:
“I committed to Georgia my sophomore year, verbally committed, and I was just so ready to get on the court and play with the ‘G’ on my chest ever since that day. I mean, when I do ball machines at my academy, every shot I hit, I was like, ‘This is for Georgia!’ To be able to be here, it feels like this is the best year of my life. I get three more? This is amazing. It’s just a privilege to play for Georgia every single day.

Georgia Head Coach Jeff Wallace
On Meg’s love for the team:
As a coach, that’s your dream right there. She’s right, she bought into the Georgia Way. We have something we call the Georgia Way, it’s about winning for your school and your teammates, and that’s what she’s done from the moment she walked onto this campus. The results aren’t surprising to me because of the work ethic and just how much she’s taking to college tennis at the University of Georgia.

On the eagerness to get to the NCAA Championship after winning National Indoors:
Back in August and September, when we were doing morning runs or workouts in the weight room, we didn’t talk much about the National Indoors. We talked more about the NCAAs at the end of the year. That was really our focus. I think the National Team Indoors was just an amazing experience for us. We really learned how to play and compete as a team at that event. We learned what fighting and just staying out there for each other was all about. I just feel that our focus for the year has been about this day tomorrow. All the experiences we’ve done as far as every practice, every weight-room training workout, every run, every match we’ve played is the path to tomorrow.

On playing on the road for a championship, instead of hosting:
It’s different. We’ve certainly played on the road at the NCAA Championships too. Athens is a special place and we’ve had the NCAAs there many years. It’s a lot of fun when it’s there, but I’ve got to say they’re doing a great job here, too. The Tennis Channel addition has really been key and great for us, the exposure. The hospitality and the eagerness of everyone here to help out in every way has just really been great. Selfishly, I’m a Bulldog and we love it in Athens, but I have nothing negative to say about my experience here so far, obviously.

On camping out on No. 1 for a bit during the match
For most of the year I’ve been on No. 1 with her [Katarina Jokic]. I just wanted to get her off to a good start, so I was there for the beginning and obviously she won eight straight games and she was up, 6-0, 2-0, and just playing unbelievable. That really was the highest level of tennis I’ve seen played here by anyone this week. Then all of the sudden, it gets interesting. I was over trying to help out with some other matches and I saw the scoreboard, so I decided to go back.

Kat’s just got another gear, she’s a special player and has done some really amazing things in college tennis and she’s only a sophomore. We spoke a little about sticking to the game plan and just focusing, keeping that line of forward thinking, point after point. She did a great job. She literally closed that thing out and got our second point pretty quick. That was huge for us, and the second night in a row she’s been the first one off the court in singles. She’s locking it down and playing some high-level ball.

On the team’s history against Stanford:
I guess history would be like this: we played them this year, and in an epic battle very similar to the last two matches we’ve played. Found a way to win that one. We’ve played them three times in the finals in the NCAAs, so this will be our fourth time playing them for a championship match. We’re just looking forward to the opportunity.

Duke Head Coach Jamie Ashworth
On Bilokin’s aggressive play in the pressure moments:
That’s how she [Margaryta Bilokin] has to play against Meg [Kowalksi]. I think Meg has lost one dual match all year, or something like that. Meg makes you come up with shots. Margaryta, in the last two sets, did everything we asked her to do. Be aggressive, try to force issue, don’t play into her hand of pushing. She won that way last night, she lost that way tonight. That’s kind of a hitter’s mentality, but she did what we asked her do there.

On Kelly Chen winning after suffering from severe cramps after last night’s match:
The effort Kelly [Chen] put in was amazing. After last night, we weren’t sure what we were going to get out of her. We knew she would give 100 percent.We weren’t sure what that 100 percent would be. Couldn’t be prouder of that, the effort she put in to be able to come back today against a really good player. She knew it was going to be a physical match, she said just this morning, ‘I know it’s going to be physical,’ and it was physical. A lot of forward movement, a lot of low, slice balls that can tax your legs and back. She gave us everything she could and it was great.

On how the length of previous night’s match affected tonight affected today:
For sure in the doubles. I honestly thought we didn’t show up in the doubles, it was too quick and there was no emotion. Our doubles were way too flat. We challenged them after the doubles and got on them pretty good and showed them this is what we play for. We have to show up, we have to be tougher, this is what we work for and this is the opportunity we have.

I thought maybe last night took a little out of us in doubles. I think we got our legs under us a little bit and realized where we were and what we were playing for and gave it everything we could in singles. Georgia played a great doubles match but their singles is tough too.

On the season as a whole:
It was a different season than we’ve had. We got beat three times by UNC throughout the year. I felt like we’ve been right there with the best teams in the country. We came down here with the goal of winning the whole thing and believed that we could do so. I saw a lot of improvement with our doubles, I saw a lot of improvement as a team. They came together as the team. I thought we started off the year with a bunch of individuals and came together as a good group.

It’s obviously bittersweet to lose today but you get to play for a national championship, you get to be in the Final Four and you’re right there, and one point here or there makes a difference. I think all around it was a good effort and I said in the beginning of the week, we left last year losing the Final Four hungry. Hopefully the group we have coming back is hungry to get back here and give ourselves a shot.

On USTA National Campus hosting NCAAs for the first time:
The people here did an incredible job. The USTA and everybody here, every committee member I’ve gotten the chance to talk to and thank. From a coach’s standpoint, this is my 24th one of these and they made it so easy on us as coaches.

From the facility just to the little things, with practice courts. Talking to other coaches, it’s been an unbelievable experience to play here and I thank everyone here for the effort they’ve put in. Hopefully, we have the chance to come back in two years and be a part of it.

#1 Georgia 4, #5 Duke 2
May 18, 2019 at Orlando, Fla. (USTA National Campus)
Singles Competition
1. #2 Katarina Jokic (UGA) def. #11 Maria Mateas (DU) 6-0, 6-4
2. #19 Marta Gonzalez (UGA) vs. #33 Meible Chi (DU) 1-6, 7-6 (7-5), *5-6 (15/0), unfinished
3. #21 Kelly Chen (DU) def. #69 Lourdes Carle (UGA) 6-2, 7-5
4. #72 Vivian Wolff (UGA) def. Kaitlyn McCarthy (DU) 6-3, 7-6 (9-7)
5. Ellyse Hamlin (DU) def. Elena Christofi (UGA) 6-2, 7-6 (8-6)
6. #122 Meg Kowalski (UGA) def. Margaryta Bilokin (DU) 7-5, 5-7, 6-4
Doubles Competition
1. #28 Lourdes Carle/Katarina Jokic (UGA) def. #47 Kelly Chen/Ellyse Hamlin (DU) 6-2
2. Vivian Wolff/Elena Christofi (UGA) def. #24 Meible Chi/Kaitlyn McCarthy (DU) 6-4
3. Meg Kowalski/Marta Gonzalez (UGA) vs. Margaryta Bilokin/Maria Mateas (DU) *5-3 (30/15), unfinished
Match Notes:
Duke 27-4; National ranking #5
Georgia 28-1; National ranking #1
Order of finish: Doubles (1,2); Singles (1,3,5,4,6)
T-3:15

 

 

 

Read 673 times Last modified on Sunday, 19 May 2019 06:47

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