The late-afternoon and night sessions brought us the only 4-3 matches of the day as Pepperdine upset the hosts Georgia while last year's NCAA runner-up Oklahoma State took out the other local favorite Georgia Tech. The top seed Florida won a tough doubles point over Texas A&M but then pulled away in singles while the SEC Champs Vanderbilt came from behind to win the doubles point and then got it done in singles against California.
Photo by Bill Kallenberg (CapturedInAction.com)
Pepperdine was able to claim the all-important doubles point for the 22nd time in 28 matches after picking up wins on 1 and 3 while Georgia won at 2. The match at No. 1 doubles only saw one break of serve and it came when Pepperdine broke from 30/40 to go up 5-4. In the previous game Pepperdine got a huge no-ad hold when Christine Maddox hit a service winner and then two games later Mayar Sherif Ahmed served it out from 40/15 to win 6-4.
The opening rounds of the NCAA Tournament were completed last weekend so now it's time to look at the Sweet 16 matchups that will take place on Thursday in Athens, Georgia. There will two matches taking place at the same time with one on the main Henry Feild Stadium Courts and the other on the McWhorter Courts. The first matches start at 9 a.m. ET with the final two set to start at 7 p.m. ET though it wouldn't surprise me to see both of the 4 p.m. matches run late. Six of the eight matches will be rematches from the regular season so it'll be interesting to see how those teams do the second time around.
For the most part Friday was a pretty dull day but Saturday delivered us some gems including two big comeback wins. I'll start with the upset of the day which came in Stillwater when Illinois rallied from 3-0 down to stun No. 11 seed Oklahoma State 4-3. The Cowboys took the doubles point with wins at No. 1 and No. 3 and then each team took three opening sets in singles. Oklahoma State seniors Lucas Gerch and Lukas Finzelberg made quick work of their opponents at No. 3 and No. 6 to make it 3-0 but Illinois started winning all the close sets and got back in the match.
Aron Hiltzik put the Illini on the board with a 3-6, 6-3, 6-0 win at No. 2 which elicited a big fist pump from head coach Brad Dancer and then both Aleks Kovacevic and Zeke Clark would win their matches within seconds of each other to tie it up at 3-3. Clark came back from a 4-0 first set deficit to take the set 6-4 and then he won the second set in a tiebreak by a 10-8 score. Kovacevic had a chance to close his match out in straight sets but after failing to do so he won the third set 6-0.
Illinois junior Aleks Vukic, who missed yesterday's match against Drake, would get the clincher with a 7-6, 7-6 win over Julian Cash at No. 1. Illinois is headed back to the Sweet 16 for the first time in two years and in doing so that means that an unseeded team has advanced to the Sweet 16 every year since the NCAA field was expanded to 64 teams in 1999.
Georgia Tech junior Chris Eubanks accepted a main draw wild card into the BB&T Atlanta Open, which is an ATP 250 event, with his opening round match scheduled for Tuesday, July 25. Eubanks has played in the main draw of the Atlanta event two years in a row though he had to go through qualies last year to do so. Eubanks has been ranked in the ITA Top 10 all year and was recently named the ACC Men's Player of the Year for the second year in a row. For more information see the release from the BB&T Atlanta Open.
The NCAA Division II Men's Round of 16 got underway today in Altamonte Springs, Florida, with #1 West Florida, #2 Barry, #3 Columbus State, #4 Hawaii Pacific, #14 Azusa Pacific, #16 Ferris State, #18 Drury, and #23 Southwest Baptist moving on to tomorrow's quarterfinal round. Of those eight winners the only lower ranked team to win was Southwest Baptist which defeated #20 St. Mary's (TX) 5-3. The highest profile matchup in the quarterfinals will be #1 West Florida taking on #4 Hawaii Pacific. For the men's bracket click here and to see individual match results click here. The women's round of 16 gets started tomorrow though I see that #1 BYU-Hawaii and #2 Barry are in the same quarterfinal so I'm not sure what's going on with the bracket making at the D2 level. The bracket is available here and the box scores from each match are available here. The brackets don't have any seeds listed (guess they don't do that?) so it's kind of hard to tell who is the better team without going through the rankings.
Texas Tech came into this week knowing that it's only way to earn an NCAA Tournament berth was to win the conference tournament and amazingly they now sit just one match away from accomplishing that goal. On Saturday afternoon, Texas Tech picked up its third top 10 win in the last six days after coming back from 2-0 down to defeat No. 8 Oklahoma State 4-3. Oklahoma State jumped out to the early lead after winning a close doubles point and then Artur Dubinski made it 2-0 with a straight set win at No. 5. Texas Tech came back with three-set wins from Bjorn Thomson, Alex Sendegeya, and Connor Curry to go in front 3-2 before Oklahoma State's Lukas Finzelberg won in straight sets at No. 6. Texas Tech senior Jolan Cailleau would put the Red Raiders over the top with a match clinching 6-7, 6-4, 6-1 win over No. 24 Julian Cash at No. 1.
A year ago Texas Tech won 28 matches and hosted a NCAA Regional but going into tonight's match against No. 4 Baylor the Red Raiders were winless in the Big 12 while having an overall record of just 10-14. Baylor was down a man with Jimmy Bendeck (#4 singles/#2 doubles) a late scratch so BU had to make adjustments to both its doubles and singles lineup. Texas Tech took advantage of the shift and picked up wins at No. 2 and No. 3 to take the early 1-0 lead. In singles play, Texas Tech would add five first sets and both Jolan Cailleau and Jackson Cobb would win in straight sets to make it 3-0. Baylor fought back to get splits at No. 3, No. 4, and No. 5 while Texas Tech got a split at No. 2.
Baylor's Johannes Schretter, Max Tchoutakian, and Will Little would each pull through to tie the match at 3-3. Texas Tech senior Carlos DiLaura led Baylor freshman Constantin Frantzen 4-1 in the third at No. 5 but Frantzen took the next two to pull within 4-3. DiLaura broke back for 5-3 but Frantzen broke and held for 5-5 and two games later it went to a tiebreak. DiLaura went up 4-0 in the tiebreak but Frantzen rallied to tie it at 6-6. Frantzen had match points at 7-6 and 8-7 but DiLaura pulled it out 10-8.
Cal came into Friday evenings match against No. 23 Oregon with a perfect 33-0 record all-time against the Ducks but the streak nearly came to an end. Cal picked up the all-important doubles point with wins at No. 1 and No. 3 but Oregon came back in singles and picked up three quick straight set wins from Akihiro Tanaka, Cormac Clissold, and Ty Gentry to go in front 3-1. Cal came back to tie it up with Andre Goransson and Filip Bergevi each winning in straight sets so the match would be decided in a third set at No. 1 between a pair of Frenchmen.
Cal senior Florian Lakat (Paris) took the first set 6-4 but Oregon sophomore Thomas Laurent (Montpellier) snagged the second 7-5 after breaking Lakat's 6-5 service game. After an exchange of holds, Laurent went up 30/40 on Lakat's 1-2 service game but Lakat hit back-to-back forehand winners to hold for 2-2. Laurent held for 3-2 and then he went up 30/40 on Lakat's serve but Lakat hit back-to-back service winners to hold for 3-3. Laurent held for 4-3 and then once again he'd go up 30/40 on Lakat's serve but Lakat hit an ace out wide and then on the deciding point he hit a service winner to hold for 4-4. Laurent had been cruising on his serve all set but Lakat would break him on the no-ad point after hitting a forehand winner that just clipped the sideline right in front of the chair. Laurent actually called the shot out but the chair quickly overruled it so now Lakat was serving for the match up 5-4. Lakat would serve it out from 40/15 to give Cal a tough 4-3 win.
A day after USC lost a tough one at Stanford it rebounded and posted a 4-0 shutout over No. 12 Cal. USC's No. 3 team of Rob Bellamy and Jack Jaede broke for a 4-3 lead and they'd close it out a few games later for a 6-4 win. Cal picked up a 6-4 win at No. 2 doubles after Andre Goransson and Billy Griffith came back from a break down to win the final three games. The decider was at No. 1 between a pair of top 10 doubles teams. After 10 consecutive holds, USC's Brandon Holt and Riley Smith broke Cal's Florian Lakat and Filip Bergevi to go up 6-5 and then they'd serve it out to win it 7-5.
Cal came back strong in singles and took four opening sets but USC's Logan Smith and Thibault Forget each closed out their matches in straight sets to make it 3-0. Cal was a game away from wins at No. 1, No. 2, and No. 6 but USC's Jack Jaede got the clincher at No. 4 after coming back from a set down to win 3-6, 6-4, 6-0 over Filip Bergevi. Each of the remaining matches were abandoned so the final stood at 4-0.
The Saturday schedule didn't exactly have a ton of sizzle but there were still some good matches and a few surprises as well. The only men's matchup between top 25 teams took place in Berkeley as No. 11 Cal hosted No. 25 Illinois. Cal picked up a quick 6-2 win at No. 1 doubles and then Andre Goransson and Billy Griffith clinched the point after coming back from a break down to win 6-4. Each team took three first sets in singles and four of the them would finish in straight sets. Cal junior JT Nishimura was dominant in his 6-2, 6-0 win at No. 6 while Illinois picked up a 6-4, 6-4 win from junior Aleks Vukic at No. 1 and a 7-6, 6-1 win from freshman Zeke Clark at No. 5. Cal junior Billy Griffith put the Bears ahead 3-2 by coming back from a set down to defeat Illinois freshman Aleks Kovacevic 3-6, 6-2, 6-3 at No. 3. It looked like Illinois was going to get a split at No. 4 when senior Julian Childers led 5-3 in the second set but Cal senior Filip Bergevi fought off six set points and came back to clinch the match with a 7-5, 7-6 win.
For the second time this week No. 2 Ohio State came up short in the state of Texas after No. 11 Texas A&M rallied to win 4-3.
Ohio State jumped out to the early 1-0 lead after claiming the doubles point with wins at No. 1 and No. 3. Ohio State's No. 1 team of Mikael Torpegaard and Herkko Pollanen broke for 2-1 and then they'd break again for 5-2 and would serve it out for 6-2. Ohio State's No. 3 team of JJ Wolf and Hunter Tubert came back from 0/40 down to hold for 3-2 and then they broke from 30/40 for 4-2. After two more holds they'd serve it out from 40/15 to win 6-3. The match at No. 2 went unfinished with Texas A&M serving at 3-4 (30/30) though A&M's Valentin Vacherot and Arthur Rinderknech had led 2-0 before Ohio State's Hugo Di Feo and Martin Joyce won three straight to go up 3-2.