A trio of top 15 matches highlighted the mid-week slate with the TCU men, Pepperdine women, and Duke women all coming through with wins.
TCU earned a hard fought 4-3 win at home over No. 8 Texas A&M. The Horned Frogs won a pivotal doubles point with wins at No. 1 and No. 2 and then each team took three opening sets in singles. Texas A&M's Valentin Vacherot tied it up with a straight set win at No. 3 but TCU made it 3-1 with a three-set win from Luc Fomba at No. 5 and a straight set win from Sander Jong at No. 6. Texas A&M's Barnaby Smith made it 3-2 with a 4-6, 6-1, 6-2 win at No. 4 and Juan Carlos Aguilar tied it up with a 7-6, 7-5 win at No. 2. TCU senior Alex Rybakov won the decider on senior night with a 7-6, 6-7, 6-3 win over Hady Habib.
The big match during the week took place in Los Angeles on Wednesday afternoon as eighth-ranked UCLA hosted ninth-ranked Pepperdine. The Bruins struck first by taking the doubles point with wins at No. 2 and No. 3 but Pepperdine quickly tied it up with a 6-0, 6-0 win by Anastasia Iamachkine at No. 6. UCLA retook the lead with a straight set win by Elysia Bolton at No. 2 but Pepperdine added straight set wins by Jessica Failla and Daria Kuczer at No. 3 and No. 4 to go in front 3-2. UCLA's Jada Hart tied the match at 3-3 with a 3-6, 6-3, 6-4 win at No. 1 but Pepperdine's Dzina Milovanovic would win the decider at No. 5 singles 6-3, 2-6, 6-3.
In men's action on Wednesday, No. 11 North Carolina defeated ACC rival No. 21 NC State 4-0. The Tar Heels took the doubles point and then added straight set wins in singles from William Blumberg, Brian Cernoch, and Bo Boyden at No. 1, No. 3, and No. 5.
New Mexico State Director of Athletics Mario Moccia named Emily Wang as the Aggies new women's head coach. Wang, who graduated from Illinois in 2007, had been the head coach at Eastern Illinois for the last two seasons posting a 28-17 (.622) record. Wang replaces Ivan Fernandez who left after seven seasons to take the women's head coaching job at UTEP. Below are some quotes from NMSU's release:
"Interest in our head women's tennis position was overwhelming," Moccia said. "Emily rose to the top during the process and I was glad we were able to recruit her to NM State. With her playing background in the Big 10 at Illinois and her returning Eastern Illinois to success they haven't seen in 25 years, I'm very confident she will do a tremendous job as our next head coach. I'd like to thank Erica Perkins Jasper, the ITA COO, for assisting me as well. Her knowledge of collegiate tennis coaches around the country was instrumental in our decision making."
"New Mexico State is a top-notch university, and I am excited to be part of the strong culture and part of the Aggie Athletics family," Wang said. "The women's tennis team has a lot of talent and potential. I'm excited to get on campus and look forward to a successful year."
Several players with college ties have roared into the quarterfinals at the USA F24 Futures in Champaign, Illinois. Recent Valparaiso graduate Jeffrey Schorsch picked up his first ATP point on Tuesday in a two-minute 1-0 retirement win over former Illinois No. 1 Farris Gosea. Schorsch added two more ATP points on Wednesday after he defeated another former Illinois No. 1 with a 5-7, 7-5, 6-3 win over Dennis Nevolo. Schorsch's next opponent will be the No. 3 seed Dominik Koepfer after the Tulane graduate defeated UCLA rising senior Martin Redlicki in the first round and American Alexios Halebian in the second round.
Harrison Adams started off the week in the qualifying draw but now the former Aggie has found himself in his third-career quarterfinal after defeating former Buckeye Hunter Callahan and the top seed Australia's Luke Saville. On Wednesday afternoon against Saville, Adams trailed 6-3, 4-2 but he rattled off five of the next six games to take the set 7-5. In the third set Adams trailed 5-3 but he won 16 of the final 21 points to close it out 3-6, 7-5, 7-5. Adams quarterfinal opponent will be ATP #935 Ricardo Rodriguez-Pace.
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.
Thursday was a busy day in the SEC with eight teams in action since the conference is playing on Thursday and Saturday this week. Three of the four matches saw the road team pick up a win while No. 17 Kentucky was the only team to win at home. TCU finished off its West Coast trip with another win while just down the road UCLA knocked off Duke.
The College MatchDay series wrapped up its Lake Nona schedule on Tuesday evening with a top two showdown between No. 1 Florida and No. 2 Ohio State. Florida's No. 3 doubles team of Josie Kuhlman and Belinda Woolcock went down an early break at 2-1 but they broke back from 30/40 and held for 3-2. They'd break for 4-2 but Ohio State's Miho Kowase and Ferny Angeles Paz would break from 30/40 to put it back on serve at 4-3. It didn't stay on serve for long because Florida broke back at love and then served it out from 40/30 to win 6-3.
Florida's Brooke Austin and Kourtney Keegan jumped out to a 2-0 lead at No. 1 doubles but Ohio State's Francesca Di Lorenzo and Anna Sanford would hold, break, and hold to go in front 3-2. After three more holds, Florida would break on the no-ad point for 5-4 but Ohio State would break back from 30/40 to even it at 5-5. Florida broke back on the no-ad point for 6-5 and then Keegan served it out from 40/30 to give Florida the 1-0 lead. The match at No. 2 went unfinished with the score tied at 5-5.
The Sunday afternoon men's schedule was packed to the brim with three top 25 teams facing each other plus several other ranked teams would be tested against stiff competition. Last season Wake Forest went to Stillwater in late January and got beat so when they made the return trip on Sunday they had a pretty good idea of what was in store. Wake Forest jumped out to the early 1-0 lead by taking the doubles point with wins at No. 1 and No. 3 and then less than an hour later the lead would grow even more. Wake sophomore Petros Chrysochos was nearly flawless in a 6-0, 6-1 win over Lukas Finzelberg at No. 2 and then junior Skander Mansouri made it 3-0 after Julian Cash retired after the first set at No. 1.
Oklahoma State battled back with straight set wins from Arjun Kadhe, Lucas Gerch, and Jurence Mendoza so the match would be decided between a pair of January admits. Wake's Borna Gojo took the first set 7-5 but Oklahoma State's Artur Dubinski stayed right with him in the second set. As the second set entered a tiebreak both players began to cramp though Gojo was able to power through it to take a 6-0 lead. Dubinski took three straight to pull within 6-3 but after he hit a volley winner he hobbled slowly to the back wall and before he was able to serve it up again the chair coded him for a time violation and the subsequent point penalty ended the match. Here is the stream of the finish - an odd scene to say the least!
The opening day of the Women's National Team Indoor Championships is in the books with seven of the top eight seeds advancing to the quarterfinals. There were some blowouts and some close ones though none of them came down to the deciding court with 4-0 and 4-1 scores accounting for six of the eight results with the other two being 4-2. We'll start with the one seeding upset of the day which took place at the Tennis and Fitness Center in Rocky Hill, Connecticut. Vanderbilt, which is the No. 8 seed, came into the match with a perfect 4-0 record during the doubles point while Texas Tech had only won the point once in four attempts. Many folks including myself though Vandy was a shoe-in to take the doubles point but Texas Tech must have figured something out in the off-week because the Red Raiders rolled in doubles by picking up a 6-2 win at No. 3 and a 6-3 win at No. 2.