The opening day of the Men's National Team Indoor Championships in Chicago was a day of upsets and near-upsets as No. 2 Mississippi State and No. 4 Florida went down while No. 3 Wake Forest and No. 5 Texas survived and held on. The top seed Ohio State had no issues, North Carolina blanked a less than 100% Baylor, UCLA overcame the loss of one of its top players to get past Notre Dame, and Virginia surged past Stanford 4-2. 

The day started off with the biggest upset by seeding as No. 15 TCU defeated No. 2 Mississippi State 4-1. The Horned Frogs overcame the loss of the doubles point after dropping the decider at No. 1 in a tiebreak 7-5 but they rebounded in singles and took all six opening sets. Unlike the match against Florida last Sunday, this time TCU was able to close out its courts in straight sets with Reese Stalder, Bertus Kruger, Luc Fomba, and Sander Jong winning at No. 3, No. 4, No. 5, and No. 6.  

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The finals are set at the Women's National Team Indoor Championships in Seattle and it'll be the No. 5 seed Georgia taking on the No. 2 seed and defending champion North Carolina. Georgia snapped Stanford's 25-match winning streak by knocking off the top seeded Cardinal 4-3 in a match that lasted just over 3 hours and 20 minutes while North Carolina beat No. 3 seed Duke 4-0 in 2 hours and 30 minutes.

Stanford jumped out to the early lead after taking the doubles point with a 6-3 win at No. 1 and a 7-5 win at No. 2 but Georgia came back strong in singles and claimed four opening sets. Georgia freshman Meg Kowalski was off the court quickly after a 6-1, 6-1 win at No. 6 and sophomore Vivian Wolff put the Bulldogs in front with a 6-2, 6-2 win at No. 4. Stanford sophomore Janice Shin evened the match at 2-2 with a 6-3, 6-2 win at No. 5 but Georgia junior Marta Gonzalez made it 3-2 with a 7-5, 6-2 win at No. 2. Stanford senior Caroline Lampl tied it at 3-3 with a 3-6, 6-3, 6-0 win at No. 3 so the match would be decided by a third set at No. 1 singles. 

Georgia sophomore Katarina Jokic jumped out to a 3-1 lead in the final set against Stanford sophomore Michaela Gordon however Gordon would hold and break to even it at 3-3. Gordon went up 40/30 in her next service game however Jokic would take the next two points to break for 4-3. Jokic held at love for 5-3 and then broke Gordon from 15/40, after a Gordon drop shot sailed wide, to take it 4-6, 6-1, 6-3. 

Georgia will be making its eighth appearance in the finals of the National Team Indoors with the Bulldogs going 3-4 in the previous seven. Georgia's most recent finals appearance came in 2015, a 4-1 loss to North Carolina, while their last title came back in 2002. 

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There was tennis played again in Seattle after snow wiped out Saturday's schedule at the Women's National Team Indoors and while most of the favorites won there was one mild upset. In an all-SEC dual, it was the No. 5 seed Georgia coming back from 3-1 down to defeat No. 4 Vanderbilt 4-3. The Commodores took the early lead with a 7-5 win at No. 1 doubles and a 6-4 win at No. 2 and then the teams split opening sets in singles. Georgia's Katarina Jokic put the Bulldogs on the board with a 4-6, 6-1, 6-2 win at No. 1 but Vandy answered seconds later with a 6-2, 7-6 win from Christina Rosca at No. 2. Vandy's Amanda Meyer extended the lead to 3-1 with a 4-6, 7-5, 6-3 win at No. 4 and it looked like the match was all but over with Emily Smith leading 5-0 in the third at No. 5. However, Georgia junior Elena Christofi would win the next seven games to close it out 6-4, 3-6, 7-5. The Christofi comeback changed the momentum on the rest of the courts as well and both Meg Kowalski and Lourdes Carle would pull away in their third sets to complete the 4-3 Georgia win. 

"We won a lot of third set matches today, and it was super exciting out there," said Georgia coach Jeff Wallace. "This was our biggest test so far, and we knew anybody you play out here is going to be really good, and it's going to be a battle. It takes a lot of maturity and discipline to hang in there like Elena did after getting down 5-0 and fighting back. Katarina (Jokic) got us on the board at No. 1 with a big win in a matchup of two of the best players in the country and then two freshmen came through in Meg (Kowalski) and Lourdes. 

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The opening day at the Women's National Team Indoors in Seattle turned into an extremely long day despite singles being played first in each of the eight round of 16 matches. Three of the first four matches were decided by a sudden death doubles point with the higher seeded team winning each of those matches. Due to the weather closing down the University of Washington at 3pm (pacific) the final match of the day between Stanford and LSU was shifted to the Seattle Tennis Club with the match not getting underway until 7:30pm (pacific) after initially having a 2pm start time. 

The No. 3 seed Duke edged Ohio State 4-3 in the opening match at the Nordstrom Tennis Center. The Blue Devils got off to a great start in singles picking up five opening sets and they'd get lightning quick wins from Kaitlyn McCarthy and Ellyse Hamlin at No. 4 and No. 6 singles with the duo only dropping only two games total. Despite the big early deficit, the Buckeyes would withstand the storm and fight back to get splits on three of the other courts while adding a straight set win from Isabelle Boulais at No. 1. Kolie Allen actually gave OSU its first point with a 1-6, 6-4, 6-1 win at No. 3 and then after Boulais tied it at 2-2 Shiori Fukuda would put the Buckeyes in front with a 3-6, 6-3, 6-4 win at No. 2. In the final singles match at No. 5, Duke's Margaryta Bilokin picked up a crucial break on the deciding point to go in front 5-4 in the third and then she'd serve it out to win 6-4, 5-7, 6-4.

The match-deciding doubles point saw three lopsided scores with Duke winning 6-1 at No. 2, Ohio State winning 6-1 at No. 1, and Duke's Kelly Chen and Meible Chi clinching the victory at No. 3 with a 6-2 win. 

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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. 

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For the first time in three years both the women's and men's finals were played outdoors and for all those in attendance they were treated to a pair of good matches that culminated with Stanford winning its 19th NCAA Women's National Championship while Wake Forest won its first-ever NCAA Men's National Championship.

For the third time in the last four matches, Stanford spotted its opponent the opening point after Vanderbilt took the doubles point for the 24th time in 31 matches with wins at No. 1 and No. 2. Vandy's No. 1 team of Astra Sharma and Fernanda Contreras picked up a no-ad break to go ahead 2-1 and then they'd add one more break to close out a 6-3 win over the ITA No. 3 ranked team of Emily Arbuthnott and Michaela Gordon.

Stanford's No. 3 team of Melissa Lord and Janice Shin broke Vandy's Christina Rosca and Amanda Meyer to start the match and several games later they'd break again to go ahead 5-2. Rosca and Meyer broke back and held for 4-5 but Stanford served it out to win 6-4. 

Seconds later Vanderbilt's No. 2 team of Emma Kurtz and Emily Smith would close out their match to give VU the doubles point. The match started off with back-to-back breaks and then Caroline Lampl and Kimberly Yee held on the deciding point for 2-1. Lampl and Yee would then get a no-ad break to go up 3-1 but Kurtz and Smith came storming back and took the next four games to go in front 5-3. Lampl and Yee held for 4-5 but Kurtz and Smith served it out from 40/30 to win 6-4. 

Stanford put the doubles point in its rear-view mirror and went to work in singles and would claim five opening sets.

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The University of Florida began the year ranked No. 1 and they will finish No. 1 after winning the NCAA National Championship on Tuesday night with a 4-1 win over Stanford. The match was originally scheduled to start at 5 p.m. eastern but due to more rain the starting time was pushed back until 8 p.m. eastern. Fortunately it stopped raining shortly after 4 p.m. so by 8 p.m. the outdoor courts were dry which meant we didn't have to suffer through another indoor final. 

Florida and Stanford were meeting in the NCAA Championship Final for the 10th time with Stanford holding a 6-3 edge coming into this match. Florida and Stanford had met during the regular season in Gainesville with Florida winning 4-1 though all the individual matchups were different this time around. 

 

FLA National Champions 2487

Photo by Bill Kallenberg (CapturedInAction.com)

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Tuesday, 23 May 2017 01:16

Florida & Stanford To Play For It All

It was another crazy of tennis with the rain wrecking havoc on the women's schedule and ultimately one match was sent 70 miles away to Atlanta. The two teams that made the finals are familiar faces with 19-time champion Stanford set to meet Florida who will be playing in its 14th NCAA Final while attempting to win No. 7. 

Stanford and Ohio State were the two teams sent to Atlanta with it being the second day in a row that the Buckeyes got sent there. Ohio State jumped on Stanford in doubles and took the point with a 6-2 win at No. 2 and a 6-1 win at No. 3. Stanford came back in singles and took five opening sets but the one first set that Ohio State got turned into a quick straight set win as Francesca Di Lorenzo defeated Caroline Doyle 6-1, 6-0 at No. 1.

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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 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. 

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