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.
Friday afternoon's Battle for LA between UCLA and USC went down to the wire, as many of these encounters do, and in the end it was the No. 13 Bruins prevailing with a close as it gets 4-3 win over the No. 9 Trojans. UCLA jumped out to the early 1-0 lead after a 6-4 win at No. 1 doubles and a 6-3 win at No. 2. Each team claimed three opening sets in singles and four of the six matches would finish in straight sets. USC took a 3-2 lead after getting straight set wins from Brandon Holt, Laurens Verboven, and Mor Bullis at No. 1, No. 3, and No. 6 while Keegan Smith won in straights at No. 2 for UCLA.
UCLA tied it up at 3-3 after Ben Goldberg knocked off Logan Smith 7-5, 3-6, 6-3 at No. 5 which meant the decider would come at No. 4 between UCLA freshman Patrick Zahraj and USC junior Riley Smith. Zahraj won the opening set in a tiebreak 7-4 while Smith claimed the second set 7-5. Smith led 4-2 in the third set before Zahraj held, broke, and held to take a 5-4 lead. After an exchange of holds, Smith fought off a match point by holding on the no-ad point to send it to a match-deciding tiebreak. Zahraj jumped out to a 4-1 lead in the tiebreak but Smith took the next four to go up 5-4. Zahraj got the mini-break back to even it at 5-5 before Smith retook the lead at 6-5. Zahraj won both points on his serve to go up 7-6 and then after Smith tied it at 7-7 Zahraj went up 8-7. Zahraj closed it out on the next point to give UCLA the win.
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.
Wednesday afternoon brought us a top 3 showdown on the women's side with North Carolina hosting rival Duke. The Tar Heels, ranked No. 1 by the ITA and No. 2 by the USTA, jumped out to the early 1-0 lead on #3/#4 Duke after rolling to 6-2 win at both No. 1 and No. 3 doubles. UNC added four opening sets in singles however the first match to finish came at No. 6 with Duke's Ellyse Hamlin winning convincingly 6-0, 6-1. Unfortunately for the Blue Devils that'd be the only point they'd muster because UNC's Sara Daavettila would make it 2-1 with a 6-4, 6-0 win at No. 3 and Cameron Morra would up the lead to 3-1 with a 6-2, 7-5 win at No. 4.
UNC senior Jessie Aney would close it out at No. 5, in the only match to go three sets, with a 4-6, 6-3, 6-2 win.
It'll be No. 1 vs. No. 3 in the finals of the ITA Men's National Team Indoor Championships after top seed Ohio State blew past Texas 4-0 while Wake Forest fought its way past North Carolina 4-2. For the third match in a row Wake Forest found itself in a precarious position, after falling behind on several courts, but the defending NCAA and NTI champs found its way through to the finals.
Wake welcomed Borna Gojo back to the doubles lineup and his return helped spark a close win in the deciding court. Wake's Bar Botzer and Petros Chrysochos were first off the court with a 6-3 win at No 2 but UNC's Mac Kiger and Simon Soendergaard answered with a tiebreak win at No. 3. The UNC duo trailed 6-4 in the tiebreak but won the final four points to take it 8-6. In the decider at No. 1, Gojo and Alan Gadjiev fought off a pair of break points while serving at 5-5 and then they went on to cruise through the tiebreak winning by a 7-2 score.
Each team would win three opening sets in singles but the first two matches to finish would both go UNC's way. Tar Heel freshman Brian Cernoch rolled to a 6-2, 6-4 win at No. 4 and senior Bo Boyden came back from 1-4 down in the first to win 7-6, 6-2 at No. 6.
The Tar Heels had the lead at 2-1 plus they had all the momentum on each of the four remaining courts. William Blumberg was up 3-0 in the third on Borna Gojo at No. 1, Ben Sigouin was up 5-2 in the second on Petros Chrysochos at No. 2, Josh Peck was up 6-3, 4-4 on Bar Botzer at No. 3, and Simon Soendergaard was serving for the second set at No. 5. Wake needed to turn three of the four matches back in its favor and slowly over a 10 minute period they'd do just that.
The semifinals are set in Chicago with the early matches providing plenty of excitement while the later matches were a pair of shutouts. It looked like No. 3 Wake Forest, the defending National Team Indoor Champions, were going to make an early exit but thanks to freshman Melios Efstathiou the Deacs lived to fight another day.
Wake found itself down 1-0 after the doubles point with UCLA picking up wins at No. 1 and No. 3 but the Deacs came back in singles with four opening sets (note: UCLA was without its No. 2 player Keegan Smith who injured his ankle the previous day). UCLA junior Ben Goldberg put the Bruins in front 2-0 with a 6-2, 6-3 win at No. 5 but Wake senior Petros Chrysochos became the school's all-time wins leader in singles (120) with a 6-1, 6-4 win at No. 2. Wake evened it at 2-2 after sophomore Yuval Solomon won 6-2, 6-2 at No. 6 but UCLA senior Maxime Cressy put the Bruins back ahead after a 6-4, 7-5 win at No. 1. Wake sophomore Bar Botzer tied the match at 3-3 with a 6-4, 7-6 win at No. 3 which meant the match would be decided at No. 4.
UCLA freshman Mathew Tsolakyan dropped the opening set 6-3 but then he won 10 of the next 13 games to take a 3-6, 6-3, *4-1 lead against Wake freshman Melios Efstathiou. Tsolakyan had a game point for 5-1 but Efstathiou broke on the deciding point and then reeled off another three games to take a 5-4 lead. Efstathiou had three match points at 15/40 but Tsolakyan came back to hold for 5-5. Efstathiou held on the deciding point for 6-5 and then he broke from 15/40 to close it out 6-3, 3-6, 7-5.
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.
Georgia won its fourth National Team Indoor Championship, and first since 2002, in a dramatic 4-3 thriller over defending champion and No. 2 seed North Carolina. The Bulldogs found themselves in a 1-0 hole for the third straight match after the Tar Heels cruised to a 6-1 win at No. 1 doubles and a 6-2 win at No. 2. The teams split opening sets in singles but only two of the six matches would finish in straight sets and both of those went to the team in Red and Black.
Georgia junior Elena Christofi put the Dawgs on the board with a 6-2, 6-2 win at No. 5 singles and freshman Meg Kowalski ran her collegiate record to 11-0 with a 6-2, 7-6(3) win at No. 6. North Carolina junior Alexa Graham evened the match at 2-2 with a 6-0, 5-7, 6-2 win at No. 3 but Georgia would retake the lead with a 4-6, 6-3, 6-2 win by sophomore Vivian Wolff at No. 4.
Georgia junior Marta Gonzalez was on the verge of clinching the championship after taking a 5-1 lead in the third set against Sara Daavettila at No. 2 but the Tar Heel junior wouldn't go away. Daavettila held from 40/15 to make it 5-2 and then she broke from 15/40 to make it 5-3. After going up 40/0, Daavettila fought off a match point to hold on the no-ad point for 5-4. Daavettila broke Gonzalez from 30/40 to even it at 5-5 but Gonzalez broke back on the no-ad point to go up 6-5. Daavettila broke at love to send the match to a tiebreak. Gonzalez won the opening point on Daavettila's serve but Daavettila took the next four and ended up pulling away for a 3-6, 7-6(4), 7-6(3) win.
The final match left on court was at No. 1 between North Carolina junior Makenna Jones and Georgia sophomore Katarina Jokic. As the match at No. 2 finished, the score was even at 5-5 in the third however minutes earlier Jones had led 5-2. During the changeover at 5-2 Jokic took a medical timeout and then she followed that up by taking the next four games to go up 6-5. Jones would break Jokic at love to send the match to a tiebreak however the tiebreak was all Jokic as she took it 7-2 to give Georgia the win.
"It is exciting," Georgia head coach Jeff Wallace said. "I'm really proud of this team, the coaches, and the support staff that was here. It was a total team effort, which makes it really special. Drake [Bernstein – Associate Head Coach] and I spent a lot of time talking to the team about the importance of supporting each other and being a true team and then to see them pull together like they have and lift each other up in tough situations and comeback in these tough matches that we are able to get in close fashion – really, really says a lot."
The finals are set at the Women's National Team Indoor Championships in Seattle and it'll be the No. 5 seed Georgia taking on the No. 2 seed and defending champion North Carolina. Georgia snapped Stanford's 25-match winning streak by knocking off the top seeded Cardinal 4-3 in a match that lasted just over 3 hours and 20 minutes while North Carolina beat No. 3 seed Duke 4-0 in 2 hours and 30 minutes.
Stanford jumped out to the early lead after taking the doubles point with a 6-3 win at No. 1 and a 7-5 win at No. 2 but Georgia came back strong in singles and claimed four opening sets. Georgia freshman Meg Kowalski was off the court quickly after a 6-1, 6-1 win at No. 6 and sophomore Vivian Wolff put the Bulldogs in front with a 6-2, 6-2 win at No. 4. Stanford sophomore Janice Shin evened the match at 2-2 with a 6-3, 6-2 win at No. 5 but Georgia junior Marta Gonzalez made it 3-2 with a 7-5, 6-2 win at No. 2. Stanford senior Caroline Lampl tied it at 3-3 with a 3-6, 6-3, 6-0 win at No. 3 so the match would be decided by a third set at No. 1 singles.
Georgia sophomore Katarina Jokic jumped out to a 3-1 lead in the final set against Stanford sophomore Michaela Gordon however Gordon would hold and break to even it at 3-3. Gordon went up 40/30 in her next service game however Jokic would take the next two points to break for 4-3. Jokic held at love for 5-3 and then broke Gordon from 15/40, after a Gordon drop shot sailed wide, to take it 4-6, 6-1, 6-3.
Georgia will be making its eighth appearance in the finals of the National Team Indoors with the Bulldogs going 3-4 in the previous seven. Georgia's most recent finals appearance came in 2015, a 4-1 loss to North Carolina, while their last title came back in 2002.