The NCAA Quarterfinals get started at noon eastern this Thursday at the USTA National Campus in Lake Nona. In case you missed the announcement last week the USTA and the Tennis Channel have entered into a three-year partnership beginning with this week where the Tennis Channel will show more than 50 hours of live matches during the NCAA Championships. During the team portion of the NCAAs the Tennis Channel will show the two late matches each day and then on Sunday they'll show both the men's and women's finals. The USTA National Campus website has plenty of information on the NCAAs and also lists all the matches that the Tennis Channel will show all the way through the individual tournament.
The eight quarterfinalists are all ranked in the most recent ITA Top 10 and I think all eight have a reasonable chance to win it all. Virginia, Wake Forest, and Baylor are the only programs of the eight remaining that have won an NCAA Championship and with Virginia and Wake set to meet on Thursday that means that at most they'll be two former champs left by the weekend.
All eight teams that won last week had the higher UTR Power 6 so it that holds up again on Thursday the four semifinalists would be North Carolina, Wake Forest, Florida, and Texas. The difference between Ohio State and North Carolina as of Sunday evening was a microscopic 0.08 so there's a chance that by match time those numbers may have shifted back towards Ohio State - regardless it should be a heck of a match.
Slam.Tennis shows that Ohio State has the largest expected winning percentage at 88% while Florida is the smallest favorite at just 57%.
The weather forecast for Thursday shows temperatures should be in the mid to upper 80s and by the weekend they'll be up around 90 so it's going to be a battle of attrition.
The Super Regional round is officially in the books and after the host schools started off 14-0 they finished 14-2 with the final two matches on Saturday evening producing the two seeding upsets.
In Starkville, No. 10 seed TCU knocked off No. 7 Mississippi State 4-2 in a match that finished just over six hours after it started due to a nearly three-hour rain delay that occurred early on in singles.
In the first meeting between the two earlier this year it was Mississippi State winning the doubles point but on Saturday it was TCU that took the early lead after picking up wins at No. 1 and No. 3.
Most of the first sets were five to six games in when play was stopped by lightning and then shortly thereafter the rain came which delayed things even further.
Once play resumed, Mississippi State would maintain breaks leads at both No. 1 and No. 3 and eventually Nuno Borges and Strahinja Rakic would go on to win in straight sets to give Mississippi State the 2-1 lead. The top-ranked Borges led fourth-ranked Alex Rybakov 4-1 before the delay and would take the match 6-1, 6-4 which meant he'll finish his senior year with a perfect 25-0 dual-match record. Rakic was serving up 3-2 in the first against Reese Stalder before the delay and after closing out the set 6-3 he'd take the second 6-2 to put MSU in front.
TCU freshman Luc Fomba tied the match at 2-2 with a 7-5, 6-3 win over Trevor Foshey at No. 5. The match was on serve before the rain came but after play resumed Foshey won three of the next four games to go in front 5-4. Foshey served for the set and had a pair of set points but Fomba managed to break and then he'd hold and break again to take the set 7-5. In the second set, Fomba broke for 4-2 and would hold serve two more times to close it out.
All three of the other matches would go three sets though Mississippi State's Florian Broska had a chance to close his match out at No. 6 in straight sets. Broska had match point while serving up 7-6 in the second set tiebreak but Sander Jong won the next three points to take the tiebreak 9-7.
After a pretty ho-hum Saturday, Sunday brought us several good matches with a few upsets and a few near-upsets. #15/#11 USC pulled off the biggest upset of the day by going to Austin and defeating #3/#1 Texas 4-2. The Trojans grabbed the early lead with doubles wins at No. 2 and No. 3 and then the teams split opening sets in singles. All matches that finished did so in straight sets with USC getting wins from Brandon Holt, Riley Smith, and Mor Bulis at 1, 5, and 6 while Texas picked up wins from Yuya Ito and Harrison Scott at 2 and 4 while Leo Telles led 6-4, 4-4 on 3.
#8/#12 Mississippi State extended its home winning streak to 24 with a late rally to get past #22/#19 Georgia 4-3. Georgia claimed the doubles point with wins at No. 1 and No. 3 but Mississippi State fought back in singles with four opening sets. Strahinja Rakic and Nuno Borges rolled to straight set wins at No. 4 and No. 1 to make it 2-1 but Georgia's Trent Bryde would tie it at 2-2 with a straight set win at No. 3. Georgia senior Walker Duncan made it 3-2 with a 5-7, 6-1, 6-4 win at No. 6 and it looked like match at No. 4 was all but over with Georgia freshman Philip Henning serving up 4-6, 6-2, 5-2 (30/0) against MSU senior Trevor Foshey. However on the 30/0 point Henning would go down on the baseline with what appeared to be a pretty severe ankle sprain.
Henning did his best to continue after a lengthy medical timeout but he could barely put any weight on his injured ankle and Foshey quickly won point after point. With the outcome of that match all but certain the focus went to No. 2 where MSU junior Giovanni Oradini led Georgia senior Jan Zielinski 5-4 in the third. Oradini had jumped out to a 4-1 lead early in the set but Zielinski managed to get it back on serve at 4-4. After Oradini held for 5-4 he'd get the pivotal break to close it out 5-7, 6-4, 6-4 to make it 3-3. Moments later Foshey would close out Henning 6-4, 2-6, 7-5 to extend the home winning streak to 25. Unlike most match clinchers there was no celebration in this one with Foshey and Henning hugging at the net while the teams exchanged handshakes.
After a rough few days in Austin there was reason to smile on Thursday night after the fourth-ranked Longhorns avenged their only loss of the year by knocking off top-ranked Ohio State 4-1. Coming into the match the Buckeyes were a perfect 17-0 in doubles but for the second match in a row they'd be without the service of their top player JJ Wolf who was in Canada playing an ATP Challenger event. A large crowd in the stands and a national television audience on the Longhorn Network saw the Longhorns take the early lead after winning the doubles point with a 6-3 win at No. 3 and a 7-6(4) win by Leo Telles and Colin Markes at No. 2.
Each team would take three opening sets in singles with Texas winning both of the sets that went to a tiebreak. Yuya Ito put the Horns up 2-0 with a 6-0, 6-3 win at No. 2 but James Trotter, who was playing in just his fourth dual-match of the season, put the Buckeyes on the board with a 6-2, 7-5 win at No. 5 which snapped Colin Markes's 14-match winning streak.
Rodrigo Banzer made it 3-1 after a 7-6, 6-2 win at No. 6. Banzer came back from a 3-0 deficit in the opening set and after taking the tiebreak he sprinted out to a 4-1 lead.
The clinching point would come about 30 minutes later with Leo Telles coming back from a set down to defeat Martin Joyce 3-6, 6-3, 6-3 at No. 3.
The other matches were abandoned with Texas up a break on 1 and up a set on 4. Texas had a really good recap of the match so make sure you give it a read.
Top-ranked Ohio State suffered its first loss of the year on Monday night falling 4-3 to #28/#20 Texas A&M in a match that wasn't as close as the final score. The Buckeyes, who were playing without JJ Wolf (Drummondville Challenger), took the early 1-0 lead after 6-4 wins at No. 1 and No. 3 doubles but the Aggies stormed back in singles taking five opening sets. A&M freshman Noah Schachter tied the match at 1-1 with a 6-3, 6-3 win at No. 5 over Tim Seibert who was playing in just his third dual-match of the year and first against a Power 5 opponent. A&M took the lead with a 6-2, 7-6 win by Hady Habib at No. 2 and Valentin Vacherot put them a point away after a 2-6, 6-3, 6-0 win at No. 3.
A&M sophomore Barnaby Smith clinched the upset with a 7-6, 6-3 win at No. 4. The final two matches were played out with Ohio State's John McNally winning 2-6, 6-4, 6-4 at No. 1 while Hunter Tubert won 6-7, 7-6, 10-4 at No. 6.
Per the Texas A&M recap it was the just the second time in school history that the Ags had defeated a top ranked opponent with the other coming in 2015 against Oklahoma.
Wolf won his opening round match in Canada over former Cal Bear Andre Goransson and will meet former Virginia Cavalier Thai-Son Kwiatkowski in the second round on Tuesday. Ohio State's next match is set for Thursday in Austin against Texas so if Wolf were to beat Kwiatkowski and then the winner of Yannick Maden (Clemson '13) and Dennis Novikov (UCLA '13) he'd probably miss it.
A Tennis Channel national audience, along with 1200 fans in the stands at the USTA National Campus, witnessed UCF knocking off ITA No. 48/USTA No. 18 Florida for the first time in school history with a thrilling 4-3 win. The Knights dropped the doubles point and then in singles each team claimed three opening sets. UCF won the first two matches to finish with Natalia Serrano and Rebeka Stolmar winning in straight sets at No. 3 and No. 5 but Florida's Victor Emma evened it up with a straight set win at No. 4. UCF's Ksenia Kuznetsova put the Knights in front 3-2 with a 6-2, 7-6 win at No. 2 but Florida's No. 1 Ida Jarlskog countered with a 6-2, 3-6, 6-3 win at the top of the lineup.
The match would be decided in a third set at No. 6 between UCF redshirt freshman Nandini Sharma and Florida freshman Anastasia Kharitonov. Kharitonov served for the match up 5-4 in the third but Sharma would break, hold, and break again to set off a wild celebration.
Wednesday was rankings release day with both the ITA and USTA releases its latest rankings. Up until this point all the ITA team rankings have been done by committee but starting with this week and going forward the computers take so that's why we saw a bunch of swings in this week's rankings versus prior weeks. The computer rankings used each team's four best wins while deducting points for losses so that's why we had a few notable teams not show up in the top 50 (Georgia/Texas A&M).
As expected Ohio State is the new men's No. 1 after running the table at the National Team Indoors while Wake Forest comes in at No. 2. Virginia made one of the bigger upward moves from 13 to 4 while Illinois came up from 14 to 8. Oregon made a jump from unranked to 15 while LSU and Penn also made nice jumps into the top 25 after being unranked.
There wasn't much change in the top 4 on the women's side, since most teams were idle last week, however there was plenty of move down below 4. Some of the teams that fell the most were Pepperdine from 6 to 20, Michigan from 13 to 27, and Florida from 24 to 48. The teams that rose the most were Washington State going from unranked to 15, Florida State from 20 to 12, and Old Dominion from unranked to No. 19.
The latest USTA Top 25 didn't have any changes at the No. 1 spot, since Ohio State moved up to No. 1 the week prior on the men's side, with Georgia remaining at No. 1 on the women's side. On the men's side some notable increases were Wake Forest from 5 to 2, TCU from 15 to 7, and Columbia from 14 to 9. Mississippi State fell 10 spots from 2 to 12 after a less than successful weekend in Chicago and Florida dropped 5 spots from 8 to 3 after also coming up short in Chicago.
Many of the top women's programs were idle last week so the changes weren't too noticeable in the top 20 aside from Pepperdine falling from 7 to 13 after they lost to Cal who has gone from unranked to 20.
Ohio State capped off a tremendous week in Chicago by knocking off defending champion Wake Forest 4-2 to win the program's second Men's National Team Indoor Championship. Ohio State got off to a quick start at No. 2 doubles as the ITA No. 7 ranked team of Kyle Seelig and Alex Kobelt cruised to a 6-1 win. Wake Forest was fairing much better elsewhere with break leads late in the match at both No. 1 and No. 3 however despite winning 6-3 at No. 1 they'd be unable to close the door at No. 3. Ohio State's Hunter Tubert and John McNally fought off a match point to break on the deciding point for 4-5 and then they fought off another match point to hold on the deciding point for 5-5. After a pair of holds, Tubert and McNally would fall behind 3-2* in the tiebreak but would go on to take the next five points to win it 7-3.
Ohio State came out strong in singles and took four of six opening sets. Buckeye junior JJ Wolf quickly made it 2-0 with a 6-0, 6-3 win at No. 1 and shortly thereafter redshirt junior Alex Kobelt made it 3-0 with a 6-3, 6-3 win at No. 5. Ohio State had set and break leads at both No. 2 and No. 4 plus Hunter Tubert was about to get a split at No. 6 so it looked like it was just a matter of time before the shutout was complete however Wake Forest showed its resiliency and came charging back.
Wake sophomore Bar Botzer put the Deacs on the board with a 6-2, 6-3 win at No. 3 and freshman Siddhant Banthia came back from 3-1 down in the third set to defeat Hunter Tubert 6-2, 2-6, 6-3. Over at No. 2, Petros Chrysochos came back from 3-4* down to force a third set against John McNally and at No. 4 Wake freshman Melios Efstathiou erased a 2-4 second set deficit to take a 5-4 lead against Martin Joyce. If Efstathiou would have been able to force a third set the tension would have been unbelievable but Joyce came back with a hold, a break, and then after falling behind 0/30 he'd take the next four points to close it out 7-5, 7-5.
For the third year in a row Ohio State and Wake Forest will meet in a meaningful match. Ohio State leads the all-time series 5-3 and has won five of the last six; of course the most important of those six came last year when Wake won 4-2 in the finals of the NCAA Championships. The other recent meeting of importance came two years ago in the semifinals of the National Team Indoors when Ohio State's Mikael Torpegaard came back from 0-3 down in the third to edge Petros Chrysochos 7-6, 5-7, 7-6(4).
Ohio State has yet to give up a point during the tournament and in singles they've only dropped five sets. JJ Wolf and Hunter Tubert are the only Buckeyes that have recorded wins in each of their three matches while Kyle Seelig is the only one that has yet to finish a match. Petros Chrysochos and Bar Botzer are both 3-0 this week for the Deacs with their other four projected starters each 1-1.
Ohio State has put out the same singles lineup in each match thus far while Wake has mixed it up at the bottom of the lineup with Julian Zlobinsky and Siddhant Banthia each starting once. Wake's Rrezart Cungu played in the first two matches but sat against UNC so it'll be interesting to see if he is in at No. 5 to play Alex Kobelt. It's also possible that Ty Tucker could make a change to his lineup and sit Kobelt while sliding in James Trotter at No. 5 but that seems unlikely because all of Kobelt's matches have been very competitive.
In doubles Ohio State has played the same teams at No. 1 and No. 3 while making a change at No. 2 after the Virginia match. In the opening two matches Alex Kobelt teamed with James Trotter (1 loss and 1 unfinished) at No. 2 but for the Texas match he teamed with Kyle Seelig and they won 6-2.
Wake Forest played the same doubles lineup in its first two matches but against North Carolina they changed things up some with Borna Gojo coming into the fold. Against UNC, Gojo played at No. 1 with Alan Gadjiev which slid Petros Chrysochos and Bar Botzer down to No. 2, and Julian Zlobinsky (Gadjiev's partner from the first two matches) teamed up Siddhant Banthia at No. 3. Further down below I have the singles and doubles results for each player from this weekend's matches.
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.