Championship Tuesday has arrived!! The women's final will start things off at 1 p.m. while the men's final will get started no earlier than 5 p.m. Stanford will be seeking its 19th NCAA Championship while Vanderbilt attempts to win its second. In the men's final both Wake Forest and Ohio State are seeking their first national championship with this being Wake first-ever appearance in the finals while Ohio State was there once before in 2009
The NCAA will have a live broadcast available on NCAA.com so head to this link at match time to listen to the broadcast. I believe that the regular live stream will also be available through Wake's host site however the live scoring is usually a point ahead of the stream and frankly the stream itself isn't the great but at least it's something (Update: Wake does not have its regular live stream so it's only available through the NCAA)
We started with 64 teams and now we're down to the final 2 after SEC Champion Vanderbilt and Pac-12 Champion Stanford advanced to Tuesday's NCAA championship match. Vanderbilt will be making its third appearance in the final (2015/2001) and will be seeking its second championship after pulling away late to defeat Georgia Tech 4-2.
Vanderbilt got off to a quick start in doubles and went up early breaks at No. 1 and No. 2 while Georgia Tech took the early lead at No. 3. Vandy's No. 2 team of Emma Kurtz and Emily Smith jumped out to a 2-0* lead and would add one more break, via a double fault on the deciding point, to defeat Ida Jarlskog ad Victoria Flores 6-3.
Vandy's No. 3 team of Christina Rosca and Amanda Meyer improved to 19-2 in dual-match by coming back from an early 0-2 deficit to defeat Johnnise Renaud and Nami Otsuka. Rosca and Meyer reeled off three straight games after dropping the first two but Renaud and Otsuka would break back and hold for 4-3. Rosca and Meyer then took the next three games, with the last one coming down to a deciding point, to win 6-4.
Rosca and Meyer's win extended Vanderbilt's doubles winning streak to 15 with the Commodores now 23-7 on the season in doubles play.
Just four men's and women's teams remain as we head into the second to last day of the dual-match season. The women's semifinals will kickoff the day at 10 a.m. and both matches should be able to be played outdoors however the men's matches scheduled for 2 p.m. may not be as fortunate. The forecast currently shows a 50% chance of scattered thunderstorms starting around 2 p.m. and staying around for most of the day so hopefully the other 50% with no rain is what we get.
On the women's side, Vanderbilt is appearing in its fourth consecutive NCAA semifinal and will be seeking its third appearance in the championship match while Georgia Tech is trying to get back to the championship match for the first time since it won it all in 2007. Stanford will be attempting to reach the championship match for the 26th time while Duke will be seeking its third championship appearance with its last coming in 2009 which also happened to be the only time the Blue Devils won it all.
On the men's side, both Wake Forest and Texas A&M are first-time semifinalists so whoever wins that match will be making its first championship appearance. UCLA has made it to the championship match 12 times with its most recent appearance in 2013 while Ohio State will try to get back for the second time in school history with its only previous appearance coming in 2009 when it lost to USC.
For the first time since play began on Thursday all matches would start and finish outdoors and the fans in attendance were treated to one good match after another. Pac-12 Champion UCLA defeated its crosstown rival USC for the fourth time this season with the doubles point being the difference. Big Ten Champion Ohio State came back from 2-0 down to defeat SEC Champion Mississippi State 4-3. In the All-SEC quarterfinal it was Texas A&M edging Florida 4-3 and in the match that the locals packed the house for Wake Forest shutout Illinois 4-0.
The semifinal matches, which will be played at the same time, have been moved up from 4 p.m. eastern tomorrow to 2 p.m. eastern since there is a chance of rain later in the day. Wake Forest and Texas A&M, which will be playing for the first time in 10 years, will play on the main stadium courts while UCLA and Ohio State, which played back in February, will play on the back six courts. If you're watching from home the live stream and scoring setup is much better on the back six courts but if you are there in person then the best sight-lines are on the stadium courts.
After two days of rain the skies finally cleared up some on Saturday which allowed for 2 1/2 of the 4 women's quarterfinal matches to be played outdoors. The first three matches were pretty uneventful, except for a coach getting ejected in the Duke/Texas Tech match, however the nightcap between Georgia Tech and UCLA lived up to its billing.
Georgia Tech played late into the night on Thursday in a 4-3 thriller against Pepperdine but the Jackets were ready for another showdown against a west coast on Saturday. The match began outdoors but midway through singles rain forced a 75 minute delay and then 10 minutes after play resumed it started raining against which ultimately forced the match indoors 30 minutes later.
UCLA won the doubles point for the 24th time in 29 matches with a 6-2 win at No. 2 and a 6-4 win at No. 3. The Bruins jumped out to early break leads on both courts and despite Georgia Tech getting it back on serve at No. 3 at 4-4 the UCLA duo of Alaina Miller and Ena Shibahara would break back and then serve it out for their 19th consecutive win.
Georgia Tech had dropped the doubles point against Pepperdine as well so they knew they could overcome it but it wouldn't be easy.
The men's Elite 8 is set with some great matchups in store for Sunday. Another day of rain forced play indoors with all eight matches played under a roof so after two days of play 14 of 16 matches have been played indoors in the national outdoor championship. The tournament host and top seed Wake Forest got some resistance from Ivy League champion Columbia and will now meet Illinois who ran right over TCU. The second seed UCLA got all it wanted and more from Michigan in the day's first match in Chapel Hill but advanced and will play a familiar foe on Sunday in crosstown rival USC who upset North Carolina with some strong, strong play in singles. The Big Ten champions Ohio State will meet the SEC champions Mississippi State after both won 4-1 matches over Minnesota and Texas. The last quarterfinal will be another All-SEC affair with Texas A&M set to meet Florida for the third time this season.
For the most part Sunday was a pretty ho-hum day, compared to the excitement and drama from the previous two days, but it all changed late in the evening (well past midnight my time) when No. 38 Ole Miss stunned No. 4 Stanford 4-3. Stanford entered the match as a heavy favorite, was undefeated at home, and since the field had been expanded to 64 teams in 1999 there had never been a No. 4 seed that had failed to advance to the Sweet 16 but Ole Miss didn't care about any of that.
Stanford had won the doubles point in 20 of its 25 matches and after winning 6-3 at No. 2 it looked like they might make it 21 of 26. However Ole Miss's Fabian Fallert and Finn Reynolds would come back from an early break down to win 7-5 at No. 3 and then minutes later Ole Miss's Tim Sandkaulen and Grey Hamilton would consolidate a late break to win 7-5 at No. 1. It was the second day in a row that the Rebels had taken the doubles point and marked the 17th time in 27 matches that they had jumped out to the early 1-0 lead.
Stanford came back in singles and claimed four opening sets and in fact five of the six matches would finish in straight sets. Ole Miss junior Filip Kraljevic put the Rebels ahead 2-0 with a 7-5, 6-3 win at No. 3 but Stanford would counter with wins from Tom Fawcett at No. 1, Eric Fomba at No. 4, and David Wilczynski at No. 5 to take a 3-2 lead.
Ole Miss sophomore Tim Sandkaulen knotted the match at 3-3 with a 7-6, 6-3 win over former ITF junior #1 Axel Geller but the Rebels still were still down a set in the remaining match at No. 6.
Stanford sophomore William Genesen broke Ole Miss freshman Finn Reynolds on the no-ad point to go up 6-2, 6-5 but he'd be unable to serve it out with Reynolds fighting off a match point, on the no-ad point via a double fault, to force a tiebreak. Genesen raced out to a 6-3 lead in the tiebreak, which meant he had three more match points, but Reynolds stayed the course and won the next five points to force a third set. If you want to watch the tiebreak and third set check out this video from J10S (fast forward to 11:30 mark which has Genesen up 6-3 in the TB).
Genesen bounced back in the third set and took an early 2-0 lead however Reynolds would take the next six games to close it out 2-6, 7-6(6), 6-2 to send the Rebels back to the Sweet 16 for the first time since 2012.
We knew it was coming but we just didn't know where and when it'd happen. I'm of course referring to a seeded team going down before the Sweet 16 which after yesterday has now occurred every year on the men's side since the field was expanded in 1999 and in 19 of the last 20 years on the women's side.
We'll start with the women which wrapped up all 16 regionals on Saturday. The Tulsa Golden Hurricane had been knocking on the door for the last several years but after 11 straight NCAA appearances that ended in the first or second round they busted through to the Sweet 16 for the first time in school history with a 4-2 win in Stillwater over No. 8 seed Oklahoma State.
Tulsa grabbed the early 1-0 lead after winning the doubles point for the 23rd time in 28 matches with a 6-2 win at No. 3 and a 6-4 win at No. 1. The teams split first sets in singles but Tulsa's lead quickly grew to 2-0 after Shura Poppe won 6-0, 6-0 at No. 6 singles which came a day after she won her match against LSU 6-1, 6-0. Oklahoma State won the next two matches to finish at No. 3 and No. 4 but Tulsa regained the lead after Vera Ploner won 6-4, 7-6(5) at No. 5.
Both of the remaining matches went to third sets but it didn't take long for Tulsa sophomore Martina Okalova to pull away from Megan McCray and clinch the match with a 5-7, 6-4, 6-0 win.
Friday was a jammed packed day of college tennis with 46 NCAA Tournament matches taking place. The women took center stage with all 16 regionals in action while 7 of the 16 men's regional kicked off as well. All 23 of the seeded teams won 4-0 except for the Oklahoma State women who defeated UMKC 4-1. There were a slew of great women's matches with UCF, Kansas State, Texas A&M, Illinois, Kansas, Baylor, and Winthrop winning by 4-3 scores while Mississippi State, Virginia, Wake Forest, Tulsa, and Oregon won by a 4-2 score. The three teams that won by 4-1 scores were Wichita State, Clemson, and the aforementioned Oklahoma State. The higher ranked team won 28 of 32 women's matches with Clemson, Wichita State, Winthrop, and Kansas State the four lower ranked winners.
UCF and Winthrop won their first NCAA Tournament matches in school history with UCF defeating FIU 4-3 while Winthrop upset #20 Auburn 4-3. This was UCF's fifth NCAA appearance while Winthrop was making its 16th trip to the dance with all 16 of those appearances coming since the year 2000.
10 of the 14 men's matches played on Friday ended with a 4-0 score with Kentucky's win over Virginia Tech and Baylor's win over Arizona State the two that most wouldn't have expected to be that lopsided. The other four matches all saw lower ranked teams pull off upset wins over their higher ranked opponents.
The top two teams in the American Athletic Conference were both knocked out with #77 South Alabama winning its first NCAA match in 10 years with a 4-3 win over #21 Memphis while #42 Alabama won its first NCAA match in 9 years with a 4-1 win over No. 23 Tulane. Coincidentally South Alabama's last win came over Alabama.
California, ranked No. 34, blew past No. 24 NC State 4-1 with the Bears dropping the doubles point but then coming back in singles to win 10 of 11 sets.
Minnesota, ranked No. 37, ousted last year's semifinalist No. 19 Georgia 4-3. The Gophers dropped the doubles point but won all the close sets in singles with senior Felix Corwin fighting off a match point in the second set to clinch the victory with a 4-6, 7-6(4), 6-2 win over fellow senior Wayne Montgomery. The loss by Georgia marks the first time since 2003 that the Bulldogs failed to make it to at least the Sweet 16.