Friday brought us seven matchups between top 25 teams with five taking place on the men's side and two on the women's side. The only top 10 matchup took place in Nashville with fifth-ranked Vanderbilt hosting sixth-ranked South Carolina. The Gamecocks hadn't beaten Vandy in Nashville since 2005 but the 14 year drought came to end thanks to a few key points in doubles and then getting all around strong play throughout the singles lineup.
South Carolina grabbed the early lead after taking the doubles point with a 6-1 win at No. 1 and a 7-6(4) win at No. 2. In singles, SC claimed four opening sets and they'd manage to close three out in straight sets. Ingrid Gamarra Martins was first off the court with a 7-5, 6-4 win at No. 1 and Kennedy Wicker followed with a 6-2, 7-6 win at No. 6. While the matches at No. 3, No. 4, and No. 5 were deep in the third set, SC senior Paige Cline would close out her match at No. 2 in straight sets with a 6-2, 7-6(4) win.
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.
The second day of the NCAA Championships is half way over with the higher seeds winning in each of the first four matches. In the morning session, No. 2 seed North Carolina shutout out ACC rival Duke 4-0 on the main Henry Feild Courts while defending champion and No. 7 seed Stanford held off a late charge to defeat No. 10 Michigan 4-1. The two noon matches saw both of the SEC schools go down as Ohio State won fairly comfortably over South Carolina while Texas Tech came back from losing the doubles point to defeat Auburn 4-2.
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.
Georgia Tech junior Chris Eubanks accepted a main draw wild card into the BB&T Atlanta Open, which is an ATP 250 event, with his opening round match scheduled for Tuesday, July 25. Eubanks has played in the main draw of the Atlanta event two years in a row though he had to go through qualies last year to do so. Eubanks has been ranked in the ITA Top 10 all year and was recently named the ACC Men's Player of the Year for the second year in a row. For more information see the release from the BB&T Atlanta Open.
The NCAA Division II Men's Round of 16 got underway today in Altamonte Springs, Florida, with #1 West Florida, #2 Barry, #3 Columbus State, #4 Hawaii Pacific, #14 Azusa Pacific, #16 Ferris State, #18 Drury, and #23 Southwest Baptist moving on to tomorrow's quarterfinal round. Of those eight winners the only lower ranked team to win was Southwest Baptist which defeated #20 St. Mary's (TX) 5-3. The highest profile matchup in the quarterfinals will be #1 West Florida taking on #4 Hawaii Pacific. For the men's bracket click here and to see individual match results click here. The women's round of 16 gets started tomorrow though I see that #1 BYU-Hawaii and #2 Barry are in the same quarterfinal so I'm not sure what's going on with the bracket making at the D2 level. The bracket is available here and the box scores from each match are available here. The brackets don't have any seeds listed (guess they don't do that?) so it's kind of hard to tell who is the better team without going through the rankings.
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.
After watching a top 10 men's showdown on Friday night in Winston-Salem, I took in a top 10 women's showdown on Saturday afternoon in Chapel Hill. Fourth-ranked North Carolina hadn't dropped a regular season conference match in three years and was riding a 50-match home court winning streak but both of those streaks would come to an end courtesy of tenth-ranked Georgia Tech. North Carolina was playing without Alexa Graham (#4S/#2D) who was out with an illness so they had to change one doubles pairing and move everyone in the lower half of the singles lineup forward one spot.
North Carolina's Hayley Carter and Jessie Aney jumped out to an early break lead at No. 1 doubles and would add another to win 6-2. Georgia Tech's Kenya Jones and Paige Hourigan followed a similar path at No. 2 doubles and also won 6-2. The point would be decided at No. 3 between Georgia Tech's Nami Otsuka/Luca Fabian and North Carolina's Sara Daavettila/Rachael James-Baker. Georgia Tech won three of the first four games to go up 3-1 but North Carolina broke and held for 3-3. A few games later Georgia Tech held for 5-4 and then they broke UNC from 15/40, via a double fault, to take the match 6-4.
For a while on Sunday it looked like the top ranked team in the land was going down but when the going got tough the tough got going. Wake Forest started off the day by claiming the doubles point with wins at No. 1 and No. 3 but Georgia Tech came back strong in singles and took five opening sets. Georgia Tech junior Chris Eubanks tied the match at 1-1 with a fairly routine 6-1, 6-4 win over the ITA second-ranked Petros Chrysochos at No. 1. Eubanks led the match from start to finish by breaking Chrysochos's opening service game in each set. Georgia Tech junior Daniel Yun put the Yellow Jackets ahead with a straight set win over Alan Gadjiev at No. 6. The opening set stayed on serve until Yun broke for 6-5 and then after serving out the set he'd open up a 4-0 lead in the second and close it out 7-5, 6-1
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.
There was only one men's match on Friday that took place between ranked teams and it happened in Columbus as No. 3 Ohio State ran its record to 8-0 with an anything but easy 4-1 win over No. 15 Kentucky. The doubles point on the other hand was pretty easy with the Buckeyes winning big at No. 2 and No. 3. Ohio State rode the momentum from the doubles point into singles and took four opening sets but Kentucky managed to get splits on two of those courts. Kentucky's Nils Ellefsen tied the match with a straight set win at No. 4 but Ohio State countered with straight set wins from Mikael Torpegaard and Herkko Pollanen at No. 1 and No. 5. Each of the remaining matches were in third sets but Ohio State sophomore Kyle Seelig would pull away from Kentucky's Enzo Wallart to clinch the match with a 6-3, 3-6, 6-2 win at No. 6.