This past weekend was the first chance for several teams to knock the dust off their racquets and it was also our first chance to see some of the freshmen and January roster additions in action. I'll go back through the weekend that was and give my thoughts on several teams and where I see them headed this season plus I'll highlight those with stellar KOW performances. I'll also take a look at the freshmen and January roster additions that could be difference makers for their respective teams.
So who impressed me the most - I'll start with Oklahoma, led by first-year head coach Nick Crowell, played some dominating doubles against No. 19 Michigan and No. 17 Illinois. The Sooners won all four completed matches and led 5-3 in the two that went unfinished. As good as the the John Roddick coached OU teams were the one thing they weren't very consistent at was winning the doubles point (.52%). In singles play we knew that Andrew Harris would perform well but only dropping four games against a quality player like Aleks Vukic was more just good - it was great! Crowell only had four players on the roster during the fall so he had to restock the bottom of the lineup and his four newcomers led by Jochen Bertsch and Adrian Oetzbach have definitely held their own. Bertsch clinched the 4-0 win over Illinois with a 1 & 1 win at No. 6 plus he had a break lead deep in the third against Michigan. OU didn't drop a set at all against Illinois and even though it was pushed pretty hard by Michigan all but one of the guys was in winning position. OU's strength is going to be its experienced top four but if it can keep winning the doubles point at a 70-80% clip and at least get a split at 5 and 6 they are going to be a tough out for most teams.
Brown Director of Athletics Jack Hayes announced the hiring of Tim Gray as the Bears new men's head coach. Gray most recently served as a consultant at Donovan Sports Strategies with his last head coaching job coming at Bradley during the 2013-14 season. Bradley went 3-19 in that one season and dropped the program a few months after the season. Gray also spent six years as the women's coach at Auburn, three years as the women's coach at Eastern Michigan, along with a few other stops at the D3 level. Gray replaces Bryan Koniecko who went 24-26 (.480) in two seasons before leaving to become the women's head coach at Central Florida.
The draws for the US Open National Playoff were released today with Nick Meister (UCLA '12) the top seed on the men's side and Ayaka Okuno (semester at Georgia in 2013) is the top seed on the women's side. The doubles draws should be out soon with singles getting underway on Friday in New Haven, CT. Below are the draws with Universal Tennis Ratings listed as of 8/19.
The participants for this year's American Collegiate Invitational were release today. The tournament will take place during the second week of the US Open with the winner earning a wild card into the following year's US Open if they meet certain criteria.
The US Open National Playoff got underway today in New Haven with three of the four men's seeds and two of the four women's seeds advancing to the quarterfinals. The men's third seed Eric Quigley (Kentucky '12) was knocked off by UCLA senior Gage Brymer in two tiebreak sets while both the second and fourth seeds, Evan King and Jose Statham, came back from a set down to win in three sets. The top seed Nick Meister (UCLA '12) won the most lopsided match of the day 6-1, 6-1 over Philip Major.
The women's top seed Ayaka Okuno, who spent a semester at Georgia in 2013, was knocked off in straight sets by Sophie Chang while the fourth seed Ashley Weinhold lost in three-sets to North Carolina freshman Sara Daavettila. There was a Universal Tennis Rating upset as Eva Raszkiewicz rolled over Fernanda Contreras 6-3, 6-1 - Raszkiewicz's UTR was 1.52 lower but that didn't seem to bother her at all. All the results are listed in the table down below (two tabs) along with the quarterfinal matchups.
In Stillwater, Oklahoma State started off taking the doubles point and then in singles play managed to pick up 3 straight set wins at 2, 3, and 6. As a side note it was interesting that there were 2 singles matches that ended with 6-0 6-0 scores - don't see that often. Things won't get any easier for Alabama as they head south to Norman to take on #2 Oklahoma while Oklahoma State will host an SEC school for the 2nd day in a row as Arkansas comes in.
In Evanston, Harvard continued the strong play that we've seen so far this year from the Ivy League schools as they knocked off Boise State 4-3. Harvard won the doubles point going away then won 3 singles matches all in straight sets to go up 4-0. Boise State would win the final 3 courts after the clinch to make the final score 4-3. Boise State drops to 2-4 with the loss while Harvard goes to 5-1.
Boise State Recap
More Saturday Results
Nebraska def. Denver 4-3 with Husker #1 Dusty Boyer clinching it 7-6 in the 3rd - NEB Recap
#1 USC def UC Irvine 7-0 - USC Recap
#5 Illinois def. Purdue 6-1 in the Big 10 opener for each school - ILL Recap
#3 Virginia def. VCU 9-1 - UVA Recap
#10 UCLA def. San Diego State 4-0 - UCLA Recap
#33 Minnesota def. Wisconsin 4-1 in the Big 10 opener for each school - MN Recap
The Sunday schedule is fairly strong with the ones to watch being listed below. Follow each of these and more at the Live Scoring Links tab at the top.
The number beside the player's school is the player's Universal Tennis Rating as of the current date so Notre Dame's Quentin Monaghan has a 14.28 UTR as of today 2/21. For more details about UTR check out theirwebsite.
#17 Notre Dame (6-1) at #9 Ohio State (10-3) - 12pm est - Live Scoring & Streaming - Ohio State goes for #200 in a row at home (according to my records) though it won't be easy as Notre Dame usually gives Ohio State a tough match just about every year. Ohio State has won 10 straight in the series and leads the all-time series 28-27. A year ago in South Bend, Notre Dame jumped out to a 2-0 lead only to see Ohio State win 4 straight singles matches with the final 2 both being 7-6 in the 3rd. If the projected lineups below hold up there will be just 1 rematch from last year with that being the match at 1 where Diaz knocked off Monaghan 7-6, 6-4. Ohio State is 11-2 in doubles while Notre Dame is 6-1. The Irish must take the doubles point to have a realistic chance at stopping the streak but I think Ohio State gets the point and picks up wins from the bottom 3 of Steinbach, Callahan, and Metka to pull it out. Prediction: Ohio State 4-1
1. #29 Quentin Mongahan (ND 14.28) vs. #53 Chris Diaz (OSU 13.80)
2. #92 Josh Hagar (ND 13.74) vs. #30 Mikael Torpegaard (OSU 13.95)
3. Eddy Covalschi (ND 13.13) vs. Herkko Pollanen (OSU 13.58)
4. Eric Schnurrenberger (ND 13.45) vs. #68 Ralf Steinbach (OSU 13.91)
5. Billy Pecor (ND 12.98) vs. #110 Hunter Callahan (OSU 13.90)
6. Nicolas Montoya (ND 12.48) vs. Kevin Metka (OSU 13.80)
#32 Oklahoma State (8-2) at #19 Wake Forest (5-2) - 12pm est - Live Scoring & Video - Oklahoma State is coming off a 4-3 win over Tulsa on Thursday while Wake has been idle for almost 2 weeks. Last year Wake went to Stillwater and won 4-1 against a better Oklahoma State team but both teams have a lot of new faces in the lineup this year so this one could be very interesting. Wake shouldn't have much trouble up top with both Rubin and Bogaerts expected to roll but the matches at 3-6 could all be tight 3 setters. Wake is 5-2 in doubles while OK State is 6-4. I like Gerch, Meraut, and Ferrigno at 3, 4, and 6 for OK State. That leaves the doubles point and #5 singles as the swing points and I think Wake takes them both. Prediction: Wake Forest 4-3
1. #88 Jakob Sude (OSU 13.54) vs. #55 Noah Rubin (WF 14.79)
2. #87 Arjun Kadhe (OSU 13.57) vs. #14 Romain Bogaerts (WF 14.34)
3. Lucas Gerch (OSU 13.82) vs. #57 Jon Ho (WF 13.49)
4. Tristan Meraut (OSU 13.26) vs. Skander Mansouri (WF 13.07)
5. Jurence Mendoza (OSU 13.62) vs. Christian Seraphim (WF 13.40)
6. Nicolai Ferrigno (OSU 13.38) vs. Keivon Tabrizi (WF 12.92)
#34 Minnesota (7-2) at #25 Harvard (7-2) - 1pm est - Harvard Twitter & Video - Harvard comes in riding a 3 match winning streak after winning the ECAC Championships last weekend which included wins over Dartmouth, Princeton, and Yale while Minnesota comes off a hard fought 4-3 loss to Vanderbilt yesterday. Both of Harvard's losses (Cal & Northwestern) have come on the road and both were close so the Crimson will be happy to get Minnesota at home. Harvard went into the Twin Cities last year and came away with a 4-3 win so these teams will be fairly familiar with each other. Both Harvard and Minnesota are 8-1 in doubles. Nguyen and Toledo met earlier this year at the ITA National Indoors with Nguyen winning in straight sets and in the match last year Nguyen won in straights as well. I like Harvard at 1, 2, 3, and 6 while I like Minnesota at 4, 5, and doubles. Prediction: Harvard 4-3
1. #25 Leandro Toledo (MN 14.01) vs. #91 Denis Nguyen (HV 13.99)
2. Jack Hamburg (MN 13.15) vs. #80 Sebastian Beltrame (HV 13.21)
3. Ruben Weber (MN 13.14) vs. Nicky Hu (HV 13.78)
4. Matic Spec (MN 13.60) vs. Alex Steinroeder (HV 13.37)
5. Felix Corwin (MN 13.56) vs. Kenny Tao (HV 13.11)
6. Mathieu Froment (MN 13.04) vs. Shaun Chaudhuri (HV 13.26)
#39 Stanford (4-2) at #14 Cal (7-2) - 1pm est - Video & Cal Twitter - Cal is happy to be back in California after a trip to Chicago last weekend gave them their first 2 losses while Stanford will be playing its first competitive match since the Kickoff Weekend. Cal hasn't exactly excelled in doubles going just 5-4 while Stanford is 5-1 however Stanford has faced just 2 top 50 opponents while Cal has faced 5 top 30 opponents. Stanford came into the year with a lot of promise with a robust freshman class that brought in Tom Fawcett, David Wilczynski, and David Hsu but while Fawcett and Wilczynski have exceeded expectations many of the returning guys haven't played at the level they did a year ago. If Romanowicz and Paige were playing like they were capable of this would be Stanford's match to lose but I just can't take them seriously until they rise up and win a match like this. I'll take Bergevi, Nishimura, Bayane, and Engsted at 2, 4, 5, and 6 for Cal while I like Fawcett and Morrissey at 1 and 3 for Stanford. Prediction: Cal 4-3
1. #28 Tom Fawcett (ST 14.12) vs. #42 Andre Goransson (Cal 13.70)
2. David Wilczynski (ST 13.72) vs. #114 Filip Bergevi (Cal 13.66)
3. John Morrissey (ST 14.07) vs. Billy Griffith (Cal 13.68)
4. Maciek Romanowicz (ST 13.28) vs. JT Nishimura (Cal 13.86)
5. Nolan Paige (ST 13.36) vs. Greg Bayane (Cal 13.48)
6. Robert Stineman (ST 13.12) vs. Mads Engsted (Cal 13.41)
For other live scoring links check out my live scoring page.
Cal jumped out to the early lead by taking the doubles point with a 7-5 win at #3 doubles in the clinching match. Stanford welcomed freshman David Hsu back into the singles lineup at 5 which shifted Nolan Paige to 6 while Cal made a switch at 5 and 6 and moved Greg Bayane up from 6 to 5 and dropped Wikberg from 5 to 6. After dropping the doubles point the momentum shifted back to Stanford in singles as the Cardinal took 4 opening sets and managed to finish 3 of them off in straights as Tom Fawcett, John Morrissey, and "Rollin" Nolan Paige won at 1, 3, 6 to give Stanford a 3-1 lead. Cal would answer back with wins from Filip Bergevi and Greg Bayane at 2 and 5 to tie it up at 3.
All focus was centered on #4 singles where Cal freshman J.T. Nishimura had opened up a 5-2 lead in the 3rd set over Stanford junior Maciek Romanowicz and Nishimura was serving for the match. Nishimura fell behind 15-40 in his service game and after getting it back to the deciding point (40-40), which was also a match point, he would put a shot into the net to give Romanowicz the break. Romanowicz went up 40-15 on his 3-5 service game but then Nishimura hit a two-handed forehand winner to make it 40-30 and followed that up with a backhand winner past a drawn in Romanowicz to bring up the deciding point (40-40). Nishimura chose the ad-court to receive the serve on what would be his final match point and Romanowicz landed his 1st serve out wide and as the outstretched arm of Nishimura deflected it back in play Romanowicz closed in toward the net and hit a volley into the open court for the hold. Nishimura would now serve for the match for a 2nd time up 5-4 and he would quickly get broke at love as Romanowicz continued to play aggressively while Nishimura tightened up and had difficulty keeping the ball in play. Romanowicz would then hold at 40-15 to go up 6-5 and would then race out to an 0-40 lead on the Nishimura serve. After a Romanowicz error made it 15-40 Nishimura wouldn't be able to keep the next one in play and with that Stanford had stunned its rival 4-3.
#39 Stanford 4, #14 Cal 3
Feb 21, 2015 at Berkeley, CA. (Hellman Tennis Complex)
1. No. 30 Bayane/Melton (Cal) def Morrissey/Stineman (Stanford) 6-3 2. Fawcett/Romanowicz (Stanford) def. #32 Goransson/Wikberg (Cal) 6-2
3. Bergevi/Engsted (Cal) def. Paige/Wilczynski (Stanford) 7-5
1. #28 Tom Fawcett (ST 14.12) def. #42 Andre Goransson (Cal 13.70) 6-2, 6-4
2. #114 Filip Bergevi (Cal 13.66) def. David Wilczynski (ST 13.72) 2-6, 6-2, 6-1
3. John Morrissey (ST 14.07) def. Billy Griffith (Cal 13.68) 6-4, 6-1
4. Maciek Romanowicz (ST 13.28) def. J.T. Nishimura (Cal 13.86) 5-7, 7-5, 7-5
5. Greg Bayane (Cal 13.48) def. David Hsu (ST 13.98) 6-2, 6-7(7), 6-2
6. Nolan Paige (ST 13.37) def. Oskar Wikberg (Cal 13.30) 6-2, 6-3
Order of Finish: Doubles (2,1,3) Singles (6,3,1,2,5,4)
In Columbus, the 184 people in attendance didn't realize they were witnessing the Buckeyes historic 200th consecutive home win with most having thought they hit that number against South Florida 2 weeks ago but as I reported it was actually 199 so today was 200. The doubles point was the only real drama in this one with Ohio State taking the deciding match at #3 in a tiebreak. In singles the Buckeyes took 4 1st sets and finished them all in straights and would also pick up a 3 set win from Ralf Steinbach at 5. Notre Dame's lone point would come at #1 singles as Quentin Monaghan cruised past Chris Diaz.
Ohio State recap
Notre Dame recap
In Winston Salem, Wake Forest picked up the doubles point by winning at 1 and 2 then picked up 3 hard fought straight set wins at 1, 2, and 4 with 3 of the 6 sets going to a tiebreak. Oklahoma State won at 5 and 6 then after the match had been clinched won a 10 point tiebreak in lieu of a 3rd set at #3 singles.
OK State recap
Saturday was a big day for the Ivy League as Harvard, Princeton, and Cornell all knocked off Power 5 schools.
In Cambridge, Harvard justified its top 25 ranking by knocking off Minnesota 5-2. Minnesota won a tight doubles point that came down to a tiebreaker at #2 but once singles got going so did the Crimson as they took 5 1st sets and ended up closing out 3 of those in straight sets while also picking up a pair of 3-set wins at 3 and 4.
#25 Harvard 5, #34 Minnesota 2
1. #91 Denis Nguyen (HV 13.99) def. #25 Leandro Toledo (MN 14.01) 6-2, 6-4
2. Ruben Weber (MN 13.14) def. #80 Sebastian Beltrame (HV 13.21) 6-3, 7-6(5)
3. Nicky Hu (HV 13.78) def. Jack Hamburg (MN 13.15) 6-1, 3-6, 7-6(8)
4. Alex Steinroeder (HV 13.37) def. Matic Spec (MN 13.60) 6-4, 2-6, 6-3
5. Kenny Tao (HV 13.11) def. Felix Corwin (MN 13.56) 7-5, 7-6(6)
6. Brian Yeung (HV 13.19) def. Mathieu Froment (MN 13.04) 6-1, 6-2
1. Nguyen/Yeung (HV) def. Froment/Hamburg (MN) 7-5
2. Corwin/Toledo (MN) def. Beltrame/Hu (HV) 7-6(7)
3. Spec/Frueh (MN) def. Steinroeder/Solomon (HV) 6-2
Order of finish: Doubles (3,1,2); Singles (1,6,2,4,5,3)
In Montgomery, Princeton advanced to the finals of the Blue Gray classic with a 4-0 rout over Clemson. Princeton took the doubles point by winning at 1 and 3 then they took 5 1st sets with Zack McCourt, Joshua Yablon, and Luke Gamble quickly closing out their opponents at 1, 3, and 6 to complete the shutout. This was Princeton's 2nd big win in as many days after they beat #30 Mississippi State 4-3 on Friday. The Tigers will face #24 South Florida in Sunday's championship match at 1pm eastern.
The biggest upset came at San Diego State where the 60th ranked Aztecs upset #22 Cal 4-2. Cal made a shift in the singles lineup and moved Greg Bayane up to 3 from his usual spot at 5/6 and with that Billy Griffith and J.T. Nishimura each played 1 spot lower than normal. The changes didn't pay off as SDSU swept all 3 spots in addition to taking the all important doubles point.
Below is a comment from the Cal recap by Peter Wright:
"Once again, doubles turned out to be a key element in today's match, Cal head coach Peter Wright said. "We certainly generated a lot of opportunities today, but we played without our usual discipline and consistency. We're young and learning, but we definitely need to do a better job sticking to our game plan. We've been through this before, and a lot of it is growing pains. We'll be a much stronger team by the end of the year.
La Jolla: For the 2nd match in a row USC would drop both the doubles point and see Yannick Hanfmann go down at #1 singles however this time around they had the rest of the lineup come through and hold off a hard charging San Diego Toreros squad that was looking for its signature win. The 2 guys that didn't play singles against Tulsa were the ones that came through in the clutch as Nick Crystal provided the clincher at #6 singles by winning 6-4 in the 3rd and then after the clinch Eric Johnson won at #3 singles 6-2 in the 3rd.
Fortunately for USC they still have plenty of time to get refocused before the NCAAs roll around but their recent troubles have to be giving some teams, including their next opponent UCLA, some hope that a win over SC isn't just a pipe dream anymore.
San Diego recap
La Jolla: Oklahoma State got all it wanted and probably more than it thought it would from UNLV but still managed to hold on to a 4-2 win. The Cowboys picked up the doubles point and a pair of quick wins from Nicolai Ferrigno and Jurence Mendoza at 5 and 6 but all the remaining matches would go the distance. UNLV's Ace Matias and Denys Pume would win at 1 and 2 to pull the Runnin' Rebels to within 3-2 plus UNLV's #4 Alex Cozbinov had a break lead deep in the 3rd. Fortunately for Oklahoma State, its #3 Arjun Kadhe would be able to hold off Jakob Amilon 6-4 in the 3rd to clinch the match.
Ok State recap
Fayetteville, AR: In a matchup between a pair of teams with no one ranked in singles it was Arkansas barely holding on to beat Alabama 4-3. The Hogs took the doubles point by winning a tiebreak at 2 then jumped on the Tide by taking 5 opening sets. Arkansas would finish both 5 and 6 in straight sets but Alabama would take the 2nd set at 1, 3, and 4 as well as see Danny Kerznerman close out Jovan Parlic in straight sets at 2. Both Becker O'Shaughnessey and Nikko Madregallejo would roll in the 3rd set to complete the comeback at 3 and 4 for Bama but with the match on the line Arkansas's #1 Giammarco Micolani would hold off Korey Lovett 6-3 in the 3rd to clinch it for Arkansas.
Note: For those that didn't notice Alabama played 6, yes 6, dual matches this past Saturday against some lighter competition in an attempt to make sure it's dual match record stays above .500 so they're eligible for the NCAAs if they are ranked high enough. Last year Alabama was the only team that would have made the NCAA off its ranking but due to having a record below .500 they missed out. I think the .500 rule is a good one to make sure the best teams go to the NCAAs but the NCAA needs to put a stipulation in there that only so many of these "bought" wins count towards your record - to be able to schedule this many matches at the last second because a team's record is well below .500 isn't in the spirit of the rule. Just my 2 cents.
"[Minnesota] has a very good team in doubles and we have a very strong team in doubles, so we knew that would be a huge point, said head coach Matt Hill. "The guys played really well today, especially at No. 1 and No. 3, so that gave us a lot of confidence moving into the singles.
FYI, the number beside the player's school is the player's Universal Tennis Rating as of March 14th. For more details about UTR check out their website.
UNLV picked up its 1st ranked win of the year as the Runnin' Rebels upset #44 Wichita State 5-2. Wichita State had its 6 match winning streak snapped after narrowly squeaking past Idaho 4-3 the day before.
"It was a great team effort today in both singles and doubles," said UNLV head coach Owen Hambrook. "The guys deserved this win. They responded to the challenge and played with great energy to get the in against a very good Wichita State team."
"I think we were in good position on two courts and I'll never doubt Axel until he loses the last point, Roddick said. "We have been good at putting teams in position where they have very little margin for error. When you do that you will come out on top more often than not. We don't have a clock so you have to close them out and our guys did that.
"I thought Guillermo and Nick (Chappell) were competing exceptionally well. We have never beaten Dane Webb in a dual match and Guillermo was able to give us that point to even the match at 1-1. Now we must prepare for a tough Oklahoma State on Sunday."
FYI, the number beside the player's school is the player's Universal Tennis Rating as of March 26th. For more details about UTR check out their website.
#1 Oklahoma 4, #10 TCU 1
Said Diaz: "Austin gave us a quick point, and Paul gave us the third point to set up Nick, who lost the first set and turned that around in such a quick manner. He won the second set and got ahead 3-0 in no time, and that was tremendous and showed a lot of composure, tenacity and maturity on his part. He went on to clinch and now we'll have a day or two off before we get ready for a big road trip next week."
2. #29 Mitchell Frank (UVa 14.89) def. #69 Brett Clark (UNC 13.74) 6-0, 6-1
4. #10 Thai-Son Kwiatkowski (UVa 14.76) def. #99 Robert Kelly (UNC 13.59) 7-5, 6-2
5. Oystein Steiro (UNC 13.43) def. Henrik Wiersholm (UVa 13.55) 6-3, 6-4
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