Friday was a stacked day with nine matchups between top 25 teams with six of those coming on the women's side. The highest profile match on the men's side took place in Waco with sixth-ranked Baylor hosting ninth-ranked TCU. The Bears claimed the doubles point with a 6-4 win at No. 1 and a 7-6(5) win at No. 3 and then in singles each team won three opening sets. Only two of the six matches would finish in straight sets with Baylor's Sven Lah winning 6-3, 6-3 at No. 5 while TCU's Alex Rybakov won 7-5, 6-3 at No. 1.
Baylor's Will Little put the Bears up 3-1 with a 4-6, 6-3, 6-2 win at No. 4 and Jimmy Bendeck clinched at No. 6 with a 7-6, 3-6, 6-2 win. The other two matches were played out with Baylor's Johannes Schretter winning at No. 2 while TCU's Reese Stalder won at No. 3.
Baylor Head coach Brian Boland on the win…
"We enjoyed it. It was a tremendous crowd, and everyone came out and supported a great college tennis match and it was everything (and) more than we thought it would be. I'm just happy for the guys. They really prepared well all week, and now we have to get ready to play Texas, so we do not have a lot of time. But a tribute to our leaders, they played really hard tonight and did a really good job preparing this week, along with the rest of the team. Once again, doubles is pivotal in terms of the momentum, especially in matches that are as competitive as this one. And congratulations to TCU, they played a great match, and I look forward to another opportunity to play them again down the road. The Big 12 is a big challenge, and now we have another top-five team in front of us on Sunday."
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.
For the second down in a row the Bay Area delivered some high quality but on Saturday the big winners were the visitors from the Lone Star State. TCU came into the weekend ranked just outside the top 30 with a 5-4 record but they'll head to Santa Barbara three games over .500 after coming back from a 3-0 deficit to defeat No. 41 Stanford 4-3. TCU made a doubles lineup adjustment by dropping an ailing Reese Stalder from No. 1 to No. 3 and moving Cameron Norrie up from No. 3 to No. 1 in an attempt to find a way to sweep the top two courts. On Friday night against Cal, Stalder teamed with Jerry Lopez to defeat the top ranked doubles team of Filip Bergevi and Florian Lakat but during singles he was forced to retire with what appeared to be some kind of shoulder injury.
Stanford's No. 3 team of David Wilczynski and Brandon Sutter would take advantage of the situation and jump on Stalder and Gianni Mancini by breaking Stalder from 30/40 to go in front 3-1. Sutter held for 4-1 and then Stanford broke Mancini from 30/40 to make it 5-1. Wilczynski would serve it out on the no-ad point to give Stanford a 6-1 win.
Virginia got a last minute warmup for the National Team Indoors by welcoming in No. 17 Illinois for a somewhat rare mid-week match in Charlottesville. Virginia claimed a quick 6-2 win from Luca Corinteli and Carl Soderlund at No. 1 doubles and it looked like Illinois would get a quick win at No. 3 when Zeke Clark and Gui Gomes led 5-2* but Virginia's Collin Altamirano and JC Aragone came roaring back to win 7-6(4). The match at No. 2 doubles was halted just as the tiebreak was ready to get started.
Duke started off fine by taking the doubles point with wins at 1 and 2 but Virginia Tech would pick off Duke 1 by 1 in singles. Florian Nicoud started things off by blowing out Josh Levine at #5 singles 6-1, 6-3 then Aaron Gomez gave Tech its first lead when he finished off TJ Pura 7-6(5), 6-0 at #6 singles. Andreas Bjerrehus would put Virginia Tech up 3-1 when he broke Nicolas Alvarez to take the match at #1 singles 7-6(7), 6-4. With all remaining matches in the 3rd set it looked like VT's Hunter Koontz was going to be the one to clinch because he led 4-2 in the 3rd at #3 while Duke's Bruno Semenzato led 5-3 in the 3rd on #4 and Duke's Jason Tahir led 4-3 in the 3rd on #2. However Semenzato would be unable to serve it out up 5-4 then Edoardo Tessaro would consolidate the break with a hold to go up 6-5. With Koontz nearing the finish line at 3, Tessaro decided he wanted to close it out himself and he broke Semenzato again to take the match and give Virginia Tech the stunning win. Koontz would also win his match at #3 as would Joao Monteiro at #2 to make the final score 6-1 VT.
Note: ACC conference matches play a pro-set to 8 in doubles and utilize regular ad scoring similar to what will be used during the NCAA Championships. The Big 10 is the only other major conference to use the same format while everyone else is playing no-ad.
Virginia Tech recap
"This was a great win for our program, said head coach Jim Thompson. "We were down a player in singles and for the guys to come in here and step up, really shows our depth. I'm proud of this team and the work that these guys put in everyday to be the best they can be.
FYI, the number beside the player's school is the player's Universal Tennis Rating as of today's (3/8) date. For more details about UTR check out their website.
Order of finish: Doubles (3,2,1); Singles (5,6,1,4,3,2)
Official: Clark Weaver T-2:08 A-376
Said head coach Manuel Diaz: "LSU played a tremendous doubles match and it was the first doubles point that we've dropped in a long time. They just outplayed us. Our guys really came back in singles and asserted themselves. I thought we had tremendous wins at the top of the lineup. Paul, who is continuing to improve in every match, did a tremendous job in clinching the win for us."
"We jumped on them in doubles and had some leads on several courts," said head coach Jeff Brown. "[Georgia] did a good job of fighting back on most of those courts and closing out the matches they had leads in."
Order of finish: Doubles (3,1,2); Singles (4,1,3,6,2,5)
#66 Wichita State 6, #58 Nebraska 1 - Shockers recap - Recap says they played in front of a large crowd - attendance listed at 55 - if that's large what's small?
Mar 08, 2015 at Wichita, Kan. (Genesis)
#10 Texas A&M 4, #40 South Carolina 2
Texas A&M recap
Both teams were without its #1 singles player with UNC's Brayden Schnur out with an injury and FSU's Benjamin Lock playing in the Davis Cup.
North Carolina recap
"It was a very hard-fought match, said North Carolina head coach Sam Paul. "We were able to come back and get the job done.
"Jose had some good points, and had set point a couple times that got away from him, Hultquist said. "Michael battled back in the third set, and Marco was able to rebound from a first set loss against a Top 30 player. Cristian was great all weekend. Our guys played well today, we just came up short.
#5 Baylor 4, #47 Memphis 0
"We didn't get off to a very good start. I think we were down a break on five of six courts, but once we got our legs underneath us we played pretty well. We didn't lose a set, so overall it was a good day. It was a little bit of a flat environment at the beginning. It was cold, so the balls don't really bounce. The tennis was a little bit different, but once we got started the guys did a great job." - head coach Matt Knoll on the match
"Mississippi has a tough environment. I surveyed a bunch of people around the country a few years ago and asked where they thought the toughest place to play in America was and a lot of them said Ole Miss, so that's why we scheduled them. We came down here a couple years ago and got beat. They have a great team. We are going to get all we want down there. It will be a big challenge for us and we are really looking forward to it." - Knoll on facing No. 10 Mississippi Tuesday
Before I preview that one here are a few others to keep an eye on today:
#31 San Diego (8-3) at #34 Texas Tech (12-4) - 1pm est - Live Scoring - San Diego is coming off a hard fought loss against USC and has wins on the year over South Carolina and South Florida while Texas Tech has only played 1 match in the last 3 weeks though has wins this year over Auburn and Mississippi State.
#24 Florida State (10-4) at #19 Wake Forest (9-4) - 4pm est - Live Scoring & Streaming - FSU is coming off a weekend where the Noles beat Louisville and gave North Carolina all it wanted despite FSU playing without its #1 Benjamin Lock who was playing in the Davis Cup. Wake has played its last 3 matches without its #1 Noah Rubin (wrist) going 1-2 in that stretch with respectable losses to Texas and Virginia and a win over TCU. This should be a very competitive match that probably finishes 4-3 on way or the other.
#28 Louisville (13-3) at #37 NC State (10-5) - 4pm est - Live Scoring & Streaming - Louisville comes off a weekend where they split with Notre Dame (W) and Florida State (L). NC State on the other hand went 0-2 last week with a close 4-3 loss to North Carolina (playing w/o Schnur) before getting plowed by Virginia 7-0. Like the FSU/Wake match this too will likely be a 4-3 match.
#42 Mississippi State (11-3) at #18 Florida (6-5)- 5pm est - Live Scoring - State has won 4 in a row with a pair of recent wins over Alabama and Arkansas while Florida has dropped 3 of its last 4. I think Florida should get the win here though State is more than capable of the upset.
#11 Vanderbilt (13-3) at #9 Texas A&M (7-2) - 7pm est - Live Scoring - Last year Texas A&M rolled into Nashville and rolled over the Dores 4-0 so this year it'll be Vandy trying to return the favor. Vandy is a stout 11-3 in doubles while Texas A&M is an equally impressive 8-1. College Station is a tough place to play so for Vanderbilt to win this one they really need the doubles point. Unfortunately for them I think Texas A&M gets the point but Vandy will put up a fight in singles. The matchup at #1 should be a good one with Gonzales Austin bringing a 14-1 dual match record into this one while Jeremy Efferding is 6-1.
Projected Singles Lineup:
1. #10 Gonzales Austin (VU 14.34) vs. #65 Jeremy Efferding (aTm 14.03)
2. Rhys Johnson (VU 13.43) vs. #71 Shane Vinsant (aTm 14.19)
3. Daniel Valent (VU 13.73) vs. #48 Harrison Adams (aTm 13.73)
4. Kris Yee (VU 13.66) vs. Arthur Rinderknech (aTm 14.15)
5. Suresh Eswaran (VU 12.87) vs. #89 A.J. Catanzariti (aTm 13.96)
6. Baker Newman (VU 12.93) vs. Max Lunkin (aTm 12.91)
Others who could play: Jordi Arconada (aTm 13.54)
#1 singles - Austin has a 14-1 dual match record and has won 2 straight after dropping his only match to Ole Miss's Nik Scholtz while Efferding is 6-1 but 2-0 playing at #1. Efferding has won 3 straight and led Georgia's Wayne Montgomery 3-0 in the 3rd in a match that didn't finish. This one will likely have a few close 7-5 type of sets and might not get to finish. I'll say Austin is ahead when the match is clinched.
#2 singles - Johnson is 5-8 on the year and has lost 2 straight while Vinsant is 2-2, with 4 additional matches not finishing, though he got blown out 6-3, 6-0 his last time out against South Carolina's Andrew Adams. I see Vinsant rebounding in this one and winning in 2.
#3 singles - Valent is 13-1 on the year and 3-0 since moving up from 4 to 3. Valent has also won 5 straight with 2 of those wins over ranked opposition. Adams on the other hand has really struggled this year with an 0-6 record and he actually was pulled from the lineup for the Aggies last match against South Carolina. I've got to go with Valent in this one though if Adams sits and Rinderknech gets moved up I could see it going the other way.
#4 singles - Yee is 8-7 in dual match play and 1-1 since dropping down from 3 to 4 in the lineup. Yee blew out Auburn's Joseph Van Dooren 6-1, 6-0 last weekend with that win stopping a 4 match losing streak. Rinderknech is a solid 7-1 and has won 7 straight since dropping his 1st dual match. Rinderknech played at #3 the last time out and picked up a 6-1, 1-6, 7-6 win over South Carolina's Thiago Pinheiro. Outside of #1 singles I think this will be the 2nd closest match and I'm going to take Rinderknech in 3.
#5 singles - Eswaran is 8-5 this year and 1-1 since moving up from 6 to 5 while Catanzariti is 5-3 though he's won 4 of his last 5. Anything other than Catanzariti in 2 would be surprising.
#6 singles - Newman is 5-5 on the year and 3-0 since moving down from 5 to 6 while Lunkin is 3-1 and the last time out he was up 4-1 in the 3rd against South Carolina's Thomas Mayronne when the team match was clinched. I'll go with Lunkin in 2 tight sets.
In my opinion Vanderbilt's best path to an upset would be to take the doubles point and pick up singles wins from Austin, Valent, and Newman. If this were in Nashville I'd probably take Vanderbilt but I think that home court advantage pays off for the Aggies. Prediction: Texas A&M 4-1
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