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.
The Sweet 16 is almost set on the men's side with 15 of the 16 spots filled on Saturday (Texas A&M/Oklahoma to play on Sunday) while 8 women's teams punched their tickets as well with the other 8 to come on Sunday.
Since the field was expanded to 64 teams in 1999, in each subsequent year there has always been at least one men's national seed that has failed to advance out of its own regional and thanks to the Cal Bears, 2019 will be no different. The Pac-12 Tournament Runner-Ups knocked off Drake in the opening round on Friday and then on Saturday they got past No. 15 Illinois 4-1.
Illinois looked like it was position to take the early lead after taking No. 1 doubles 6-3 but Cal managed to win both No. 2 and No. 3 in tiebreaks to claim 1-0 lead.
Cal used the momentum from the doubles point and took four opening sets in singles. While Illinois managed to get a 7-5, 5-2 ret. win by Aleks Kovacevic at No. 1, Cal would get straight set wins from Jack Molloy, Ben Draper, and Bjorn Hoffman at No. 2, No. 4, and No. 6 with Draper's 6-4, 7-5 win the clincher. Cal's Jacob Brumm also had a commanding lead at No. 5 in a match that went unfinished.
Next up for the Bears will be a trip to Austin to face No. 2 Texas who overcame the loss of the doubles point to defeat South Florida 4-1.
Sunday was a big day for the University of Texas with the men's team edging #6 Baylor 4-3 at home in front of a national television audience on the Longhorn Network while the women's team went on the road to Stillwater and defeated #9 Oklahoma State 5-2.
The Texas men found themselves down 1-0 after dropping the doubles point at 1 and 2 but straight set wins in singles from Christian Sigsgaard, Yuya Ito, and Rodrigo Banzer put them in front 3-2. UT senior Colin Markes clinched the win at No. 5 with a 2-6, 6-0, 6-1 win over Sven Lah while BU's Will Little closed out the night at No. 4 with a win over Harrison Scott to make the final 4-3.
The Texas women were able to get the early momentum at Oklahoma State after winning the doubles decider at No. 2 in a tiebreak 8-6. In singles, Texas took four of six opening sets but the first two to finish were at No. 4 and No. 5 with Oklahoma State's Marina Guinart and Sofia Blanco winning 6-2, 6-0 and 6-3, 6-3. UT's Katie Poluta tied it up at 2-2 with a straight set win at No. 6 and Bianca Turati made it 3-2 with a 6-4, 6-2 win at No. 1. Petra Granic put the Horns over the top with a 6-4, 2-6, 7-6 (2) at No. 3 while Anna Turati followed suit with a 6-4, 7-6 win at No. 2.
The University of Texas stayed in the news for a second day in a row after athletic director Chris Del Conte dismissed men's head coach Michael Center following the charges that made headlines all across the county on Tuesday. Center, who was in his 19th season as head coach at Texas, reportedly accepted approximately $100,000 to help an unnamed student gain admittance to Texas by labeling him as a tennis recruit. Associate head coach Bruce Berque will serve as the interim head coach for the rest of the season and I'm sure the story will be a major topic on tonight's nationally televised broadcast of Texas's match against No. 1 Ohio State which will air on the Longhorn Network. Below was the official statement from Del Conte via the University of Texas:
"After working with campus leaders to review the recent situation with Michael Center, we have decided to relieve him of his duties as our Men's Tennis coach," Del Conte said. "It's a very difficult decision, and we are grateful for the years of service that he has provided, but winning with integrity will always be paramount at The University of Texas, and it was a decision that had to be made.
"I've met with our team and assured them that we will do everything in our power to support them," Del Conte added. "I also plan to reach out to all of our commitments, signees and their families immediately. I'm grateful for Coach Berque's leadership during this challenging time. Our team is in the middle of a tremendous season, and I applaud them for how they've handled this situation, especially the way they responded in their match on Tuesday."
The Tennis Recruiting Network has an article with comments from one of Texas's top recruits for next year. The Longhorns 2019 recruiting class was rated No. 2 with four blue chips and a four-star recruit so it'll be interesting to see how many remain committed to Texas following the news this week.
Tennis was played in many parts of the country on Saturday but one place where it wasn't was in Seattle. Almost a foot of snow closed down the University of Washington and made the roads unsafe so the second day of the Women's National Team Indoors was called off. As it stands right now a full schedule will be played on Sunday with the main draw quarterfinal matches to be played at 10 am and 1 pm pacific time while the consolation matches are scheduled for 4 pm and 7 pm pacific time. The semifinals will be played on Monday with a Tuesday final though I'm not sure if they'll be another round of consolation matches played on Monday. Check out Slam.Tennis for the full schedule along with any changes that are made throughout the day.
While snow knocked out play in Seattle it was rain that did in the highly anticipated top 10 men's clash in Los Angeles between No. 7 UCLA and No. 10 Stanford. However just 12 miles away at USC there was no rain and No. 5 USC and Cal were able to play a full four plus hour classic that saw Cal come back from 1-3 down to stun USC 4-3. It was the second day in a row the Trojans led a match at home 3-1 only to see the lead disappear in heartbreaking fashion.
It's Friday which means we have another action packed weekend of tennis upon us. The big event on the women's side is the ITA National Team Indoors in Seattle. There has already been a change to Friday's schedule with 4 to 6 inches of snow in the forecast. The opening matches will be moved up from 9 am to 8 am pacific, the second pair of matches which were originally scheduled for 12 noon will start at 10 am, the third pair of matches were moved up from 3 pm to 12 pm, and the final matches were moved up from 6:30pm to 2pm. All matches on Friday will start with singles with doubles only being played if the match is tied at 3-3. All the updated match times are available on my live scoring page and over on Slam.Tennis. According to this release from the University of Washington, all of Saturday's matches have been cancelled however I've yet to see any confirmation of this from the ITA. (Update: there will be no tennis played on Saturday at the University of Washington - there may be a limited number of matches played at the Seattle Tennis Club however that decision will be made later on Friday)
There are also going to be plenty of good matches this weekend on the men's side. Some of the more intriguing matches on Friday are #1 Wake Forest at #13 Virginia (will be a non-conference match), #10 Stanford visits #5 USC, and #2 Ohio State hosts Arizona State, On Saturday #3 Mississippi State will play #19 Tulane in a neutral site match in Lubbock, Stanford will close out its LA road trip at #7 UCLA, #14 Illinois will host #8 North Carolina, and #17 Tennessee and Duke will meet in Lake Nona in a match to be carried live by the Tennis Channel. To close out the weekend on Sunday, #2 Ohio State will host #24 Georgia, #1 Wake Forest hosts #9 Baylor, and #15 TCU welcomes in #4 Florida. To follow all of these matches check out my live scoring page which also has links to several other matches.
The big match of the day on Saturday came on the women's side with No. 3 North Carolina picking up a 5-2 road win over No. 2 Vanderbilt. The Heels came out strong in doubles and took the point with a pair of 6-2 wins at No. 1 and No. 2 and in singles Alexa Graham quickly made it 2-0 with a 6-3, 6-0 win at No. 2 singles. Fernanda Contreras, ITA No. 6, put Vandy on the board with a 6-3, 6-3 win over No. 2 ranked Makenna Jones but that'd be just about all Vandy could muster. UNC freshman Cameron Morra made it 3-1 with a 7-5, 7-5 win over fellow freshman Carolyn Campana at No. 4 and UNC sophomore Alle Sanford would provide the clincher at No. 5 with a 6-3, 1-6, 7-5 win over Emily Smith. The final two matches were played out with Vandy getting its second point with a win from Georgia Drummy at No. 3 while UNC's Jessie Aney rolled at No. 6 in a match that didn't start until after the first singles match was completed since Vandy's indoor facility has only five courts.
If you tried to follow this top 3 showdown at home the only way you could see the scores was if you clicked on the video link for each court because for some reason Vandy has stopped providing live scoring. While streaming video is great not having a live scoring page to summarize everything is extremely poor. The summarized scoring updates on twitter were bad at best with neither team putting forth much effort. If you're looking to grow the sport making it extremely difficult to get basic scoring updates is not the way to go.
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.
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.
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.
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.