UCLA and Ohio State both won outright regular season conference titles on Friday night with the Bruins defeating crosstown rival No. 6 USC 4-1 while the Buckeyes beat up No. 21 Northwestern 6-1. UCLA jumped out to the early 1-0 lead after claiming the doubles point with wins at No. 1 and No. 2 and then the Bruins added four first sets in singles. Evan Zhu and Logan Staggs won in straight sets at No. 3 and No. 4 to make it 3-0 but USC would get on the board with a straight set win from Thibault Forget at No. 5. USC was getting close to a win at No. 6 and had an early break lead in the third at No. 1 but UCLA's Martin Redlicki would squash any hopes of a comeback after he closed out Nick Crystal 7-6, 7-6 at No. 2. UCLA and USC will both gets byes into the semifinals of the Pac-12 Tournament which begins on Wednesday in Ojai.
The latest USTA Top 25 is out with both the Wake Forest men and Florida women remaining at No. 1 although their leads at the top are as slim as they've been. On the men's side Virginia is just two votes back at No. 2 while on the women's side Ohio State is only one vote behind Florida. There was no change in the men's top six though Baylor moved up two spots to No. 7 while USC dropped one spot to No. 8 and Texas dropped two spots to No. 9. Florida, South Carolina, and Oregon made the biggest jumps by coming up four spots each to No. 15, No. 18, and No. 21. Georgia Tech took the biggest tumble by dropping five spots to No. 19 after a tough loss at unranked Virginia Tech. Coincidently Columbia only dropped one spot to No. 19 after it fell to unranked Harvard.
The women's top four remained the same though Vanderbilt shot up six spots to No. 5 after its big win over Florida last Sunday. Pepperdine came up four spots to No. 8 after defeating Stanford and Texas A&M came up six spots to No. 18 after defeating Georgia in Athens. Texas Tech and Auburn each dropped four spots to No. 10 and No. 22 after T-Tech lost to unranked TCU while Auburn fell to Arkansas.
The Tulane men and TCU women were the only newcomers to this week's poll with each coming in at No. 25. The Kentucky men and LSU women were the only two to fall out after each lost a pair of matches over the weekend.
Prior to Sunday, it'd been 16 years since Oklahoma State had last defeated a top 3 team but that's exactly what they did on Sunday afternoon in Waco. Third-ranked Baylor jumped on Oklahoma State in doubles and picked up a pair of 6-2 wins at No. 1 and No. 2 to take the early 1-0 lead. Oklahoma State got back in the match by taking four opening sets in singles and Lukas Finzelberg would tie the match up with a quick 6-3, 6-0 win at No. 6. Baylor answered with straight set wins from Max Tchoutakian and Johannes Schretter at No. 2 and No. 3 to go in front 3-1. Oklahoma State's Artur Dubinski followed with a straight set win at No. 4 and then Julian Cash won in three sets at No. 1 to even the match at 3-3.
As Cash was closing out his match, Oklahoma State's Tristan Meraut and Baylor Jimmy Bendeck were headed to a second set tiebreak at No. 5 with Meraut having taken the first set. Meraut led the tiebreak 4-2 at the changeover and he would pull away and close it out 7-3 with Bendeck double faulting on the match point.
The ITA and Universal Tennis have entered into a five-year partnership agreement which will have the UTR name attached to the ITA Summer Circuit plus all Summer Circuit events will utilize the UTR Event Management System. The ITA and Universal Tennis will work together to make the draws at each Summer Circuit event more level-based so I would hope going forward we won't see many instances of a player with a 12.85 UTR taking on a player with a 10.25 UTR in the first round of an event. The announcement about the use of UTR Events will be appreciated by yours truly because I "tried" to cover some of the Summer Circuit events last year but tracking down results from each event was easier said than done. Some host sites used TennisLink, some updated results on their website daily, some updated results after the event was over, and some didn't update at all. The release also mentioned that TCU will host this year's Summer Circuit National Championship after it had been held at Indiana University for as long as I can remember.
The original release says the ITA will endorse UTR as the official rating system of the ITA however for the time being UTRs won't have any bearing on the actual Oracle/ITA singles and doubles rankings. Below are a few quotes from the release:
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.
The Saturday schedule didn't exactly have a ton of sizzle but there were still some good matches and a few surprises as well. The only men's matchup between top 25 teams took place in Berkeley as No. 11 Cal hosted No. 25 Illinois. Cal picked up a quick 6-2 win at No. 1 doubles and then Andre Goransson and Billy Griffith clinched the point after coming back from a break down to win 6-4. Each team took three first sets in singles and four of the them would finish in straight sets. Cal junior JT Nishimura was dominant in his 6-2, 6-0 win at No. 6 while Illinois picked up a 6-4, 6-4 win from junior Aleks Vukic at No. 1 and a 7-6, 6-1 win from freshman Zeke Clark at No. 5. Cal junior Billy Griffith put the Bears ahead 3-2 by coming back from a set down to defeat Illinois freshman Aleks Kovacevic 3-6, 6-2, 6-3 at No. 3. It looked like Illinois was going to get a split at No. 4 when senior Julian Childers led 5-3 in the second set but Cal senior Filip Bergevi fought off six set points and came back to clinch the match with a 7-5, 7-6 win.
WOW - what a tremendous day of college tennis action! The day got started early with No. 2 Wake Forest hosting No. 5 North Carolina and it finished 10 hours later with No. 31 TCU pulling off an upset win over No. 6 Cal. Both of the matches in Orlando were tremendous with No. 36 Florida State and No. 15 Florida playing in front of a College MatchDay record-crowd and then at the same time on the other six courts you had Tulsa and Central Florida go down to the wire.
I'll start off with the biggest upset of the day, in terms of ranking, which took place in Palo Alto between a resurgent No. 41 Stanford and No. 8 Texas. The Cardinal was coming off a huge win on Tuesday night over No. 6 Cal in a match where it dropped the doubles point but rallied to win four singles matches. On Friday afternoon, Stanford managed to get out to the early lead after securing the doubles point for the seventh time in eleven matches. Stanford's No. 2 team of Sameer Kumar and Michael Genender broke Texas's Harrison Scott and Julian Zlobinsky on the no-ad point to go ahead 3-2 and then they held for 4-2. Texas would come back from 0/40 down to hold for 3-4 but Stanford would hold from 40/30 and then break from 15/40 to win it 6-3.
The latest edition of the Big Slam was another classic with #41 Stanford upsetting #6 Cal 4-3 on Tuesday night at the Taube Family Tennis Stadium. Cal welcomed Filip Bergevi back into its singles and doubles lineup after he missed the last few weeks with an injury and his return paid off in doubles as he and Florian Lakat, who earlier in the day were elevated to the ITA's No. 1 doubles team, defeated Tom Fawcett and William Genensen at No. 1. Bergevi served for the match up 5-2 but he was broke on the no-ad point after Fawcett hit a second serve return winner. Fawcett held at love for 5-4 but Lakat would serve it out from 40/30 to give Cal the 6-4 win. Cal's Billy Griffith served for the match at No. 2 doubles up 5-3 (40/30) but Stanford broke on the no-ad point to make it 5-4. Down at No. 3, Cal's JT Nishimura was serving up 4-3 (40/0) but Stanford came back to break on the no-ad point for 4-4. Both of those courts would go to tiebreaks and Cal's Billy Griffith and Andre Goransson would clinch the doubles point with a 7-0 win at No. 2 while the match at No. 3 went unfinished with it tied at 1-1.
North Carolina and Baylor each picked up wins on Monday afternoon with North Carolina getting it done on the road while Baylor won at home. North Carolina went to Nashville and took out Vanderbilt 6-1 despite playing without its No. 1 Ronnie Schneider. UNC took the doubles point with wins at No. 1 and No. 3 and then the Heels took three of five opening sets at Vandy's five court indoor facility. William Blumberg, Robert Kelly, and Bo Boyden won in straight sets at No. 1, No. 3, and No. 5 while Vanderbilt picked up a straight set win from Cameron Klinger at No. 2. In the final two courts to finish North Carolina's Jack Murray won in three sets at No. 4 while Arturo Schmidt won in a third set supertiebreak at No. 6
The finals are set at the 2017 Men's ITA National Team Indoor Championships and it'll be the host and top seed Virginia going up against the third seed Ohio State. The opening match of the day between Ohio State and the second seed Wake Forest was just plain wild. There were so many swings back and forth and just when you thought one team was going to pull it out the other came swooping in.
Ohio State came into the match with a perfect 12-0 record during the doubles point but Wake Forest was set on giving them their first L. Ohio State's No. 2 team of Martin Joyce and Hugo Di Feo came out with guns blazin' as they broke Alan Gadjiev on the no-ad point to start the match and then after Joyce held from 40/30 they broke Borna Gojo's serve on the no-ad point to make it 3-0. Gojo and Gadjiev took one of the breaks back when they broke Di Feo from 30/40 however Joyce and Di Feo would break Gadjiev on the no-ad point to make it 4-1. Joyce would hold and then the Buckeye duo would break Gojo to close it out 6-1.