The opening day of the Men's National Team Indoor Championships in Chicago was a day of upsets and near-upsets as No. 2 Mississippi State and No. 4 Florida went down while No. 3 Wake Forest and No. 5 Texas survived and held on. The top seed Ohio State had no issues, North Carolina blanked a less than 100% Baylor, UCLA overcame the loss of one of its top players to get past Notre Dame, and Virginia surged past Stanford 4-2.
The day started off with the biggest upset by seeding as No. 15 TCU defeated No. 2 Mississippi State 4-1. The Horned Frogs overcame the loss of the doubles point after dropping the decider at No. 1 in a tiebreak 7-5 but they rebounded in singles and took all six opening sets. Unlike the match against Florida last Sunday, this time TCU was able to close out its courts in straight sets with Reese Stalder, Bertus Kruger, Luc Fomba, and Sander Jong winning at No. 3, No. 4, No. 5, and No. 6.
It's Friday which means we have another action packed weekend of tennis upon us. The big event on the women's side is the ITA National Team Indoors in Seattle. There has already been a change to Friday's schedule with 4 to 6 inches of snow in the forecast. The opening matches will be moved up from 9 am to 8 am pacific, the second pair of matches which were originally scheduled for 12 noon will start at 10 am, the third pair of matches were moved up from 3 pm to 12 pm, and the final matches were moved up from 6:30pm to 2pm. All matches on Friday will start with singles with doubles only being played if the match is tied at 3-3. All the updated match times are available on my live scoring page and over on Slam.Tennis. According to this release from the University of Washington, all of Saturday's matches have been cancelled however I've yet to see any confirmation of this from the ITA. (Update: there will be no tennis played on Saturday at the University of Washington - there may be a limited number of matches played at the Seattle Tennis Club however that decision will be made later on Friday)
There are also going to be plenty of good matches this weekend on the men's side. Some of the more intriguing matches on Friday are #1 Wake Forest at #13 Virginia (will be a non-conference match), #10 Stanford visits #5 USC, and #2 Ohio State hosts Arizona State, On Saturday #3 Mississippi State will play #19 Tulane in a neutral site match in Lubbock, Stanford will close out its LA road trip at #7 UCLA, #14 Illinois will host #8 North Carolina, and #17 Tennessee and Duke will meet in Lake Nona in a match to be carried live by the Tennis Channel. To close out the weekend on Sunday, #2 Ohio State will host #24 Georgia, #1 Wake Forest hosts #9 Baylor, and #15 TCU welcomes in #4 Florida. To follow all of these matches check out my live scoring page which also has links to several other matches.
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.
The opening day of the NCAA Tournament brought us a few good matches but for the most part it was blowout city as 23 of the 32 matches ended in 4-0 shutouts. All regional hosts won their matches 4-0, which was expected, but I was surprised that only one No. 3 seed was able to get past a No. 2 seed.
#42 Louisville was the No. 3 seed that pulled off the upset as the Cards knocked off #28 UCF in the lone 4-3 match of the day. UCF jumped out to the early 1-0 lead by claiming the doubles point with a 7-5 win at No. 2 and a 7-6(5) win in the decider at No. 3. Louisville came back strong in singles and picked five opening sets and both Parker Wynn and Clement Filho would win in straight sets to make it 2-1. UCF came back and forced three third sets and after Korey Lovett won at No. 1 and Mariano Porter at No. 4 the Knights led 3-2. Louisville's Nicolas Rouanet and Brandon Lancaster each went up early breaks in the third set on the two remaining courts and both would win 6-3 in the third with Rouanet getting the clincher. Below are some quotes from Louisville's recap:
Former Virginia Tech Hokie Sebastien Jacques is making his way across the country, by foot, after not being able to walk across a room just a few years ago. Jacques played at Virginia Tech from 2007 to 2010 but during his senior year he had to quit playing due to a lack of energy. After graduating with a degree in marketing he returned home to Magog, Canada, and after seeing several doctor he was eventually diagnosed with a pineal cystic tumor in his brain which was the cause of the energy drain. The doctors in Canada determined the procedure was too risky and the health care system wouldn't cover the cost so Jacques ended up raising $80000 and had the surgery performed in California. The surgery was a success and Jacques returned to a normal life but he decided to embark on the cross-country walk to show people that it is possible to overcome obstacles in life. Virginia Tech had a write-up on Jacques a few days ago plus there are plenty of details on his website.
The NCAA Division II Men's Championship has reached the semifinals with #1 West Florida advancing after a 5-0 win over #4 Hawaii Pacific. UWF's top player, #4 Alex Peyrot, played doubles but sat out in singles which was interesting because in the round of 16 its #2 player, Gabriel Dias, did the same thing. Next up for UWF will be #23 Southwest Baptist after the Bearcats held off #16 Ferris State 5-4 with Raul Cabalero winning the deciding match 6-2, 4-6, 7-6(1) at #4 singles. The other semifinal match will be between #2 Barry and #3 Columbus State. Barry cruised past #18 Drury 5-1 with the Bucs taking two of three in doubles and winning every completed set in singles. Columbus State ran through #14 Azusa Pacific 5-1 with the Cougars sweeping all three doubles courts (count as a point each) and then getting two straight set wins at #3 and #4. APU got its lone point when Oliver Frank, D2s top ranked player, cruised to a 6-1, 6-3 win at #1.
Georgia came into Saturday's match at Texas A&M with an undefeated conference record but a few hours later they'd be undefeated no more as Texas A&M played a tremendous match and came away with the win and the top seed in the SEC Tournament. Georgia was 16-5 in doubles coming into the match while Texas A&M was just 9-13 but it'd be the Aggies that'd get off to the quick start by picking up breaks at No. 1 and No. 2.
Texas A&M's AJ Catanzariti and Arthur Rinderknech jumped out to a quick 3-0 lead at No. 1 doubles against the ITA No. 2 team of Jan Zielinski and Robert Loeb and they refused to let Georgia get back in the match. Texas A&M's Jordi Arconada and Hady Habib went up an early break at No. 2 however Georgia's Paul Oosterbaan and Nathan Ponwith would break back to even it at 2-2. Arconada and Habib returned the favor and broke for 3-2, Habib held for 4-2, and then A&M broke again via a Ponwith double fault for 5-2. Over at No. 3, it stayed on serve until Georgia's Wayne Montgomery and Walker Duncan broke Max Lunkin to go ahead 5-3.
After watching a top 10 men's showdown on Friday night in Winston-Salem, I took in a top 10 women's showdown on Saturday afternoon in Chapel Hill. Fourth-ranked North Carolina hadn't dropped a regular season conference match in three years and was riding a 50-match home court winning streak but both of those streaks would come to an end courtesy of tenth-ranked Georgia Tech. North Carolina was playing without Alexa Graham (#4S/#2D) who was out with an illness so they had to change one doubles pairing and move everyone in the lower half of the singles lineup forward one spot.
North Carolina's Hayley Carter and Jessie Aney jumped out to an early break lead at No. 1 doubles and would add another to win 6-2. Georgia Tech's Kenya Jones and Paige Hourigan followed a similar path at No. 2 doubles and also won 6-2. The point would be decided at No. 3 between Georgia Tech's Nami Otsuka/Luca Fabian and North Carolina's Sara Daavettila/Rachael James-Baker. Georgia Tech won three of the first four games to go up 3-1 but North Carolina broke and held for 3-3. A few games later Georgia Tech held for 5-4 and then they broke UNC from 15/40, via a double fault, to take the match 6-4.
It was almost a great day to be a Georgia Bulldog but it ended up being just a good day after the Georgia women rocked No. 1 Florida while the Georgia men fell just short against No. 1 Wake Forest. In the men's match, Wake Forest jumped out to the early break lead at No. 2 doubles when Borna Gojo and Alan Gadjiev broke Georgia's Nathan Ponwith and Emil Reinberg to go up 1-0 but Georgia broke back on the no-ad point for 1-1. Georgia won the next three games to go up 4-1 but Wake came back and took the next three to even it at 4-4.
The match at No. 3 stayed on serve through the first eight games but then Georgia got the break when Walker Duncan and Wayne Montgomery broke from 30/40 to go up 5-4. Duncan would serve it out at love to give Georgia the 6-4 win. Both No. 1 and No. 2 doubles would go to tiebreaks and Wake's Christian Seraphim and Skander Mansouri would jump out to a 5-1 lead at No. 1 on Georgia's Jan Zielinski and Robert Loeb. Georgia won the next five to go up 6-5 before Mansouri hit a second serve service winner to even it at 6-6. Mansouri would double fault after the changeover and then Zielinski served it out with an overhead smash from the service line to give Georgia the 7-6 (6) win and early 1-0 lead. The match at No. 2 went unfinished with Georgia leading 6-4* in the tiebreak.
The College MatchDay series wrapped up its Lake Nona schedule on Tuesday evening with a top two showdown between No. 1 Florida and No. 2 Ohio State. Florida's No. 3 doubles team of Josie Kuhlman and Belinda Woolcock went down an early break at 2-1 but they broke back from 30/40 and held for 3-2. They'd break for 4-2 but Ohio State's Miho Kowase and Ferny Angeles Paz would break from 30/40 to put it back on serve at 4-3. It didn't stay on serve for long because Florida broke back at love and then served it out from 40/30 to win 6-3.
Florida's Brooke Austin and Kourtney Keegan jumped out to a 2-0 lead at No. 1 doubles but Ohio State's Francesca Di Lorenzo and Anna Sanford would hold, break, and hold to go in front 3-2. After three more holds, Florida would break on the no-ad point for 5-4 but Ohio State would break back from 30/40 to even it at 5-5. Florida broke back on the no-ad point for 6-5 and then Keegan served it out from 40/30 to give Florida the 1-0 lead. The match at No. 2 went unfinished with the score tied at 5-5.
The USTA released its top 25 on Wednesday with both the Virginia men and Florida women unanimous No. 1s. Ohio State and Wake Forest were unanimous No. 2 and No. 3 on the men's side while North Carolina and Cal were No. 4 and No. 5. The women's top three stayed the same while Stanford and Georgia swapped spots at No. 4 and No. 5.
Texas made the biggest jump on the men's side rising five spots to No. 9 while Northwestern took the biggest plunge falling seven spots to No. 13. There wasn't a whole lot of movement on the women's side with UCLA and Baylor each rising three spots to No. 14 and No. 19 respectively while no one fell more than two spots. TCU was the only team to go from unranked to ranked on the women's side with Northwestern dropping out.