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The first day of Super Regional play brought us a few good matches and a few shutouts but they all ended with the home team coming out on top. The two closest matches of the day took place on the West Coast with Stanford edging Big XII Champion Kansas 4-3 while Pepperdine fought off a scrappy UCF team 4-2.
Stanford won its 20th straight match and advanced to the Elite 8 for the 10th year in a row but it was far from easy. The Cardinal found themselves in a 1-0 hole after Kansas won the doubles point for the 25th time in 26 matches with a 6-2 win at No. 2 and a 6-3 win at No. 3.
Each team claimed three opening sets in singles with three of the matches finishing in straight sets while the other three went the distance.
Stanford seniors Melissa Lord and Caroline Lampl gave the Cardinal the lead at 2-1 after Lord won 6-2, 7-5 at No. 2 singles while Lampl stayed perfect in dual-match play (21-0) with a 6-3, 6-3 win at No. 3.
Kansas's Maria Toran Ribes tied it at 2-2 with a 7-5, 6-4 win at No. 6 singles. Ribes's opponent Niluka Madurawe was playing in just her fifth dual-match of the season with Stanford's usual No. 6 Emma Higuchi out for unknown reason.
Stanford would go back in front after Emily Arbuthnott completed her comeback with a 5-7, 6-1, 6-4 win at No. 4 singles but Kansas's Anastasia Rychagova knotted it up at 3-3 with a 4-6, 6-4, 6-4 win at No. 1.
By the time Rychagova closed out Michaela Gordon at No. 1, Stanford's Janice Shin was nearing the finish line in the decider at No. 5. Shin dropped the opening set 6-4 but she'd come back to take the final two sets 6-4, 6-2 to send the Cardinal to Lake Nona where they'll meet No. 6 Pepperdine on Friday.
The Sweet 16 is set and while eight of the nine matches played on Sunday were on the women's side it was the one men's match that was the showstopper.
Oklahoma jumped out to a quick start on the road against No. 13 Texas A&M by claiming the doubles point with 6-4 wins at No. 1 and No. 3 and then the Sooners added first sets at 4, 5, and 6.
Texas A&M's Hady Habib tied it at 1-1 with a 7-5, 6-0 win at No. 2 but OU retook the lead after Jochen Bertsch won 6-2, 6-4 at No. 6.
A&M's Val Vacherot made it 2-2 with a 6-3, 7-5 win at No. 3 but once again OU went back in front after a 6-2, 7-6 win by Ferran Calvo at No. 4.
A&M needed both of the remaining matches and it looked like they just might do it with both Juan Carlos Aguilar and Noah Schachter leading deep in the third sets at No. 1 and No. 5.
Aguilar managed to close out Spencer Papa 6-0, 4-6, 7-5 at No. 1 after breaking Papa from 30/40 on an iffy call that Papa didn't like and at No. 5 Schachter had three match points on Mason Beiler's 3-5 service game. Beiler managed to come back and hold for 4-5 and then he broke Schachter from 30/40 to even it at 5-5. Schachter broke back at love to go up 6-5 but Beiler broke from 30/40 to force a tiebreak.
Schachter won the first three points of the tiebreak and would eventually go up 6-3. Schachter had a pair of chances to close it out on his own serve but a couple of big forehands by Beiler erased them both to put it back on serve at 6-5. A service winner by Beiler tied it at 6-6 but then he netted a forehand to give Schachter a seventh match point at 7-6. Beiler went big again and forced a Schachter miss to make it 7-7 and then after Schachter pulled a backhand wide Beiler had his first match point at 8-7. Beiler wouldn't waste the opportunity and he closed it out with a forehand winner to send OU back to the Sweet 16 for the sixth time in the last seven years.
A trio of top 15 matches highlighted the mid-week slate with the TCU men, Pepperdine women, and Duke women all coming through with wins.
TCU earned a hard fought 4-3 win at home over No. 8 Texas A&M. The Horned Frogs won a pivotal doubles point with wins at No. 1 and No. 2 and then each team took three opening sets in singles. Texas A&M's Valentin Vacherot tied it up with a straight set win at No. 3 but TCU made it 3-1 with a three-set win from Luc Fomba at No. 5 and a straight set win from Sander Jong at No. 6. Texas A&M's Barnaby Smith made it 3-2 with a 4-6, 6-1, 6-2 win at No. 4 and Juan Carlos Aguilar tied it up with a 7-6, 7-5 win at No. 2. TCU senior Alex Rybakov won the decider on senior night with a 7-6, 6-7, 6-3 win over Hady Habib.
The big match during the week took place in Los Angeles on Wednesday afternoon as eighth-ranked UCLA hosted ninth-ranked Pepperdine. The Bruins struck first by taking the doubles point with wins at No. 2 and No. 3 but Pepperdine quickly tied it up with a 6-0, 6-0 win by Anastasia Iamachkine at No. 6. UCLA retook the lead with a straight set win by Elysia Bolton at No. 2 but Pepperdine added straight set wins by Jessica Failla and Daria Kuczer at No. 3 and No. 4 to go in front 3-2. UCLA's Jada Hart tied the match at 3-3 with a 3-6, 6-3, 6-4 win at No. 1 but Pepperdine's Dzina Milovanovic would win the decider at No. 5 singles 6-3, 2-6, 6-3.
In men's action on Wednesday, No. 11 North Carolina defeated ACC rival No. 21 NC State 4-0. The Tar Heels took the doubles point and then added straight set wins in singles from William Blumberg, Brian Cernoch, and Bo Boyden at No. 1, No. 3, and No. 5.
Friday brought us seven matchups between top 25 teams with five taking place on the men's side and two on the women's side. The only top 10 matchup took place in Nashville with fifth-ranked Vanderbilt hosting sixth-ranked South Carolina. The Gamecocks hadn't beaten Vandy in Nashville since 2005 but the 14 year drought came to end thanks to a few key points in doubles and then getting all around strong play throughout the singles lineup.
South Carolina grabbed the early lead after taking the doubles point with a 6-1 win at No. 1 and a 7-6(4) win at No. 2. In singles, SC claimed four opening sets and they'd manage to close three out in straight sets. Ingrid Gamarra Martins was first off the court with a 7-5, 6-4 win at No. 1 and Kennedy Wicker followed with a 6-2, 7-6 win at No. 6. While the matches at No. 3, No. 4, and No. 5 were deep in the third set, SC senior Paige Cline would close out her match at No. 2 in straight sets with a 6-2, 7-6(4) win.
Another big coaching opening was filled as LSU Athletic Director Joe Alleva named Andy Brandi and his son Chris as the men's co-head coaches of the Tigers. Andy has plenty of coaching experience in the SEC after spending 17 exceptional seasons as the women's head coach at Florida from 1984 to 2001. During those 17 seasons, Andy won three NCAA Championships while his teams won 91% of its matches and lost zero SEC home matches! After Andy left Florida he served as Director of Tennis at the IMG Academy for five years and then most recently he was a national coach on the USTA Player Development staff.
Chris Brandi played collegiately at TCU and Florida from 2001 to 2005 and then was an assistant coach at Wake Forest in 2008 and at Baylor from 2009-2011; most recently he was a private tennis coach in Florida. Andy and Chris Brandi replace Jeff Brown who stepped down after 15 seasons. Below are some quotes from LSU's release:
While the NCAA Division I Tournament got started last weekend the Division II Tournament wrapped up with the West Florida men and Barry women bringing home the trophy. UWF won its fourth national championship, first since 2014, with a 5-2 win over Barry. UWF took two of three doubles matches to go in front 2-1 and then it added straight set wins from Gabriel Dias and Serdar Bojadjiev and Alfonso Castellano provided the clincher with a three set win at No. 6. UWF's recap has more details plus you can rewatch the broadcast of the final at this link.
The 69th Blue Gray Tennis Classic came to an end on Saturday with the Rice men and Auburn women capturing titles by winning three matches in a 30-hour window. Rice started the day on Friday with a 4-0 win over Boise State and then Rice and Virginia Tech met in the semifinals with the doubles point played on Friday while singles was played Saturday morning. Rice only dropped two points in doubles and then the Owls won 9 of 11 sets in singles with David Warren clinching the 4-0 win. In Saturday afternoon's championship match, Rice took the doubles point with wins at No. 1 and No. 2 but then the teams split first sets in singles. South Carolina picked up straight set wins from Andrew Schafer and Alex Fennell while Rice's Tommy Bennett won in straight sets for Rice. With the match tied at 2-2 each of the remaining matches would be decided by few points late in the third set.
South Carolina's Yancy Dennis served for the match at No. 3 up 5-4 in the third but Rice's Jake Hansen broke back, held, and broke again to win 6-3, 4-6, 7-5 which put Rice ahead 3-2. Rice sophomore Eric Rutledge would clinch the match at No. 5 by breaking Thomas Mayronne's 4-4 third set service game and then serving the match out to take it 3-6, 6-2, 6-4. The match at No. 1 went unfinished with Rice's Jamie Malik leading 4-2 in the third set tiebreak after Malik had fought off two match points to force the tiebreak
There was only one men's match on Friday that took place between ranked teams and it happened in Columbus as No. 3 Ohio State ran its record to 8-0 with an anything but easy 4-1 win over No. 15 Kentucky. The doubles point on the other hand was pretty easy with the Buckeyes winning big at No. 2 and No. 3. Ohio State rode the momentum from the doubles point into singles and took four opening sets but Kentucky managed to get splits on two of those courts. Kentucky's Nils Ellefsen tied the match with a straight set win at No. 4 but Ohio State countered with straight set wins from Mikael Torpegaard and Herkko Pollanen at No. 1 and No. 5. Each of the remaining matches were in third sets but Ohio State sophomore Kyle Seelig would pull away from Kentucky's Enzo Wallart to clinch the match with a 6-3, 3-6, 6-2 win at No. 6.
Saturday was semifinal day at all the fall tournaments - take a look down below to see who is playing in Sunday's finals.