Sunday, 21 May 2017 20:17

Women's Elite 8 Recap

The 2017 NCAA women's semifinalists are now set and it'll be a pair of SEC superpowers, a newcomer from the Big Ten, and perennial powerhouse from the Pac-12. The day was supposed to begin at 10 a.m. ET but due to rain everyone was put in a holding pattern. After the skies opened up and it began to pour, the decision was made that North Carolina and Stanford would go indoors in Athens at 2 p.m while Ohio State and Texas Tech would be shipped to Atlanta with a 4 p.m. start (I went to Atlanta to follow the match). Both of the late matches were put on hold but due to the skies eventually clearing they would both be played outdoors starting just 30 minutes after the original 4 p.m. start time.

The longest match of the day took place between the No. 7 seed Stanford and the No. 2 seed North Carolina. A big reason for the length, 3 hours and 18 minutes, was because Georgia's indoor facility only has four courts and the other reason was because four of the six singles matches went three sets.  

Stanford got off to great start in doubles and rolled to 6-1 wins at both No. 1 and No. 2 while North Carolina had a 5-1 lead at No. 3 in a match that went unfinished. 

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The late-afternoon and night sessions brought us the only 4-3 matches of the day as Pepperdine upset the hosts Georgia while last year's NCAA runner-up Oklahoma State took out the other local favorite Georgia Tech. The top seed Florida won a tough doubles point over Texas A&M but then pulled away in singles while the SEC Champs Vanderbilt came from behind to win the doubles point and then got it done in singles against California.

 

Peperdine 3858

Photo by Bill Kallenberg (CapturedInAction.com)

Pepperdine was able to claim the all-important doubles point for the 22nd time in 28 matches after picking up wins on 1 and 3 while Georgia won at 2. The match at No. 1 doubles only saw one break of serve and it came when Pepperdine broke from 30/40 to go up 5-4. In the previous game Pepperdine got a huge no-ad hold when Christine Maddox hit a service winner and then two games later Mayar Sherif Ahmed served it out from 40/15 to win 6-4.

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For the most part Friday was a pretty dull day but Saturday delivered us some gems including two big comeback wins. I'll start with the upset of the day which came in Stillwater when Illinois rallied from 3-0 down to stun No. 11 seed Oklahoma State 4-3. The Cowboys took the doubles point with wins at No. 1 and No. 3 and then each team took three opening sets in singles. Oklahoma State seniors Lucas Gerch and Lukas Finzelberg made quick work of their opponents at No. 3 and No. 6 to make it 3-0 but Illinois started winning all the close sets and got back in the match. 

Aron Hiltzik put the Illini on the board with a 3-6, 6-3, 6-0 win at No. 2 which elicited a big fist pump from head coach Brad Dancer and then both Aleks Kovacevic and Zeke Clark would win their matches within seconds of each other to tie it up at 3-3. Clark came back from a 4-0 first set deficit to take the set 6-4 and then he won the second set in a tiebreak by a 10-8 score. Kovacevic had a chance to close his match out in straight sets but after failing to do so he won the third set 6-0. 

Illinois junior Aleks Vukic, who missed yesterday's match against Drake, would get the clincher with a 7-6, 7-6 win over Julian Cash at No. 1. Illinois is headed back to the Sweet 16 for the first time in two years and in doing so that means that an unseeded team has advanced to the Sweet 16 every year since the NCAA field was expanded to 64 teams in 1999.  

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Former Virginia Tech Hokie Sebastien Jacques is making his way across the country, by foot, after not being able to walk across a room just a few years ago. Jacques played at Virginia Tech from 2007 to 2010 but during his senior year he had to quit playing due to a lack of energy. After graduating with a degree in marketing he returned home to Magog, Canada, and after seeing several doctor he was eventually diagnosed with a pineal cystic tumor in his brain which was the cause of the energy drain. The doctors in Canada determined the procedure was too risky and the health care system wouldn't cover the cost so Jacques ended up raising $80000 and had the surgery performed in California. The surgery was a success and Jacques returned to a normal life but he decided to embark on the cross-country walk to show people that it is possible to overcome obstacles in life. Virginia Tech had a write-up on Jacques a few days ago plus there are plenty of details on his website

The NCAA Division II Men's Championship has reached the semifinals with #1 West Florida advancing after a 5-0 win over #4 Hawaii Pacific. UWF's top player, #4 Alex Peyrot, played doubles but sat out in singles which was interesting because in the round of 16 its #2 player, Gabriel Dias, did the same thing. Next up for UWF will be #23 Southwest Baptist after the Bearcats held off #16 Ferris State 5-4 with Raul Cabalero winning the deciding match 6-2, 4-6, 7-6(1) at #4 singles. The other semifinal match will be between #2 Barry and #3 Columbus State. Barry cruised past #18 Drury 5-1 with the Bucs taking two of three in doubles and winning every completed set in singles. Columbus State ran through #14 Azusa Pacific 5-1 with the Cougars sweeping all three doubles courts (count as a point each) and then getting two straight set wins at #3 and #4. APU got its lone point when Oliver Frank, D2s top ranked player, cruised to a 6-1, 6-3 win at #1. 

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Texas Tech came into this week knowing that it's only way to earn an NCAA Tournament berth was to win the conference tournament and amazingly they now sit just one match away from accomplishing that goal. On Saturday afternoon, Texas Tech picked up its third top 10 win in the last six days after coming back from 2-0 down to defeat No. 8 Oklahoma State 4-3. Oklahoma State jumped out to the early lead after winning a close doubles point and then Artur Dubinski made it 2-0 with a straight set win at No. 5. Texas Tech came back with three-set wins from Bjorn Thomson, Alex Sendegeya, and Connor Curry to go in front 3-2 before Oklahoma State's Lukas Finzelberg won in straight sets at No. 6. Texas Tech senior Jolan Cailleau would put the Red Raiders over the top with a match clinching 6-7, 6-4, 6-1 win over No. 24 Julian Cash at No. 1. 

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A year ago Texas Tech won 28 matches and hosted a NCAA Regional but going into tonight's match against No. 4 Baylor the Red Raiders were winless in the Big 12 while having an overall record of just 10-14. Baylor was down a man with Jimmy Bendeck (#4 singles/#2 doubles) a late scratch so BU had to make adjustments to both its doubles and singles lineup. Texas Tech took advantage of the shift and picked up wins at No. 2 and No. 3 to take the early 1-0 lead. In singles play, Texas Tech would add five first sets and both Jolan Cailleau and Jackson Cobb would win in straight sets to make it 3-0. Baylor fought back to get splits at No. 3, No. 4, and No. 5 while Texas Tech got a split at No. 2. 

Baylor's Johannes Schretter, Max Tchoutakian, and Will Little would each pull through to tie the match at 3-3. Texas Tech senior Carlos DiLaura led Baylor freshman Constantin Frantzen 4-1 in the third at No. 5 but Frantzen took the next two to pull within 4-3. DiLaura broke back for 5-3 but Frantzen broke and held for 5-5 and two games later it went to a tiebreak. DiLaura went up 4-0 in the tiebreak but Frantzen rallied to tie it at 6-6. Frantzen had match points at 7-6 and 8-7 but DiLaura pulled it out 10-8.

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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. 

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Both TCU and Oklahoma State picked up big wins on Sunday with OSU defeating Texas for the first time in 10 years while TCU won in Norman for the first time since April 1977. We'll start with the Oklahoma State/Texas match which started outdoors before going indoors after the doubles point due to rain. Oklahoma State won the doubles point for the 17th time in 22 matches after picking up wins at No. 1 and No. 2 while Texas won at No. 3. Oklahoma State took four opening sets in singles and Arjun Kadhe and Lucas Gerch won in straight sets at No. 2 and No. 3 to make it 3-0. Texas's Leo Telles won in straight sets at No. 5 and Texas earned splits at No. 1 and No. 6 after dropping the first set while George Goldhoff dropped the second set at No. 4 after winning the first. 

Goldhoff ended up winning in three sets to close the gap to 3-2 but Oklahoma State was right at the finish line at both No. 1 and No. 6. OSU's Julian Cash was serving up 6-3 in the third set tiebreak at No. 1 but before he could hit that next serve his teammate Tristan Meraut held on the no-ad point to close out Rodrigo Banzer 6-1, 6-7, 6-3 at No. 6. Below are clips of the match point from two different angles courtesy of Oklahoma State and below that is head coach Jay Udwadia talking about the big W.

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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. 

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For the third year in a row a doubles team from Oklahoma State won the Pacific Coast Doubles Championship as seniors Lucas Gerch and Arjun Kadhe defeated Stanford's Jack Barber and William Genesen 6-3, 6-4 in the final. Kadhe won the title last year with Julian Cash while Gerch won it in 2015 with Nicolai Ferrigno. Gerch and Kadhe's toughest match came in the quarterfinals when they defeated USC"s Laurens Verboven and Nick Crystal 4-6, 6-4, 7-6(2) and their second closest match came in the semifinals when they defeated UCLA's Martin Redlicki and Evan Zhu 6-4, 4-6, 6-2. Up until the quarterfinals they played 8-game pro sets and then starting in the quarterfinals it was best two out of three sets. To see full results from all matches, including consolation, check out the USTA Tennislink page. FloTennis, which streamed the event, has a recap of the tournament as well at this link

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