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.
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.
Thursday night brought us a pair of close matches in the SEC with Texas A&M and Tennessee pulling out hard fought 4-3 wins. In College Station, Texas A&M fell behind after dropping the doubles point but the Aggies rallied with four opening sets in singles. Juan Carlos Aguilar tied the match at 1-1 with a 6-0, 6-1 rout at No. 1 but Georgia's Jan Zielinski put the Bulldogs back in front with a 7-6, 6-3 win at No. 2. Texas A&M's Valentin Vacherot evened the match at 2-2 after a 7-6, 6-3 win at No. 3 but Georgia was still leading on two of the remaining courts with the third about to split sets.
Texas A&M freshman Noah Schachter came back from a break down in the third set, while also fighting off multiple breaks himself, to win 6-4, 3-6, 7-6(5). Schachter trailed Georgia junior Robert Loeb 3-1 in the third set but after holding and breaking for 3-3 he'd come back from 30/40 down to hold for 4-3. After a hold by Loeb, Schachter once again came back from 30/40 down to hold for 5-4. After a few more holds Loeb would go up 2-0 in the tiebreak but it'd be 3-3 at the changeover. Schachter went up 6-4 and after being denied on his first match point he'd close it out on the next one after the chair overruled Loeb's out call on the far sideline.
Georgia freshman Phillip Henning evened the match at 3-3 with a 5-7, 7-6, 6-2 win at No. 4. Henning led the opening set 5-3 but dropped the final four games and in the second set he also led 5-3 but after dropping three straight he came back to take it in a tiebreak. Henning went up an early break in the third and broke at love to close it out.
Texas A&M's other freshman Guido Marson was nearing the finish line at No. 6 after opening up a 5-1 lead in the third set against Georgia senior Walker Duncan. 35 minutes earlier it looked like Duncan was headed for a straight set win but a missed swinging forehand volley at 6-4, *4-2 (40/40) was a turning point that got Marson back in it. Marson came back to take the second set 7-5 and after leading 5-1 it looked like he was moments away from the clinch. However Duncan would reel off three straight games which included a break of Marson's 5-2 service game on the 40/40 point. Duncan looked like he was going to get it back on serve after going up 30/40 but after coming to the net he laid off hitting a volley on a Marson backhand, since it looked like it might sail long, however the shot landed in which brought up the deciding point. Duncan would net a forehand on the deciding point to give Marson and Texas A&M the 4-3 win.
Just one day after winning the program's third straight NCAA National Championship Athletic Director Craig Littlepage named former UVA associate head coach Andres Pedroso as the Cavaliers' new men's head coach and director of tennis. Pedroso, who served under the departing Brian Boland from 2010 to 2014, was a national coach for USTA Player Development prior to coming to Charlottesville and then after leaving in 2014 he began coaching privately in South Florida. Pedroso will also be responsible for hiring a new women's coach to replace Mark Guilbeau who stepped down on May 5. Below are some quotes from Virginia's release which is available here.
"I would like to thank President Sullivan, Craig Littlepage and Jon Oliver for this once in a lifetime opportunity to lead UVA Tennis and succeed one of the greatest collegiate coaches of all time in Brian Boland," Pedroso said. "Coach Boland started setting me up for success at the University of Virginia seven years ago, during my time as associate head coach. Moving forward, my intention is to only enhance, together with the entire UVA Tennis coaching staff, the world-class experience that our University and tennis program provide our student-athletes.
"Nothing will be more important than the overall development of our men's and women's student-athletes and maximizing their potential will continue to take a total team effort on the part of many who believe in our cause. UVA Tennis has always been based on building a community of quality people around a student-athlete experience that produces exceptional leaders and human beings. This will never change and I look forward to reaching out to every person who has or will make UVA Tennis an integral part of their life."
The ITA released its final team, singles, and doubles rankings of the regular season with the team rankings falling in line with what I projected earlier in the week. The men's top five was Wake Forest, Virginia, Ohio State, USC, and UCLA while the women's top five was Florida, Ohio State, Vanderbilt, North Carolina, and Georgia. The NCAA followed the rankings when doing seeding on the men's side but as we found out on Tuesday they did not on the women's side with North Carolina moving up to No. 2 while Texas Tech passed Stanford for No. 6.
In the men's singles rankings the only change in the top 10 was Illinois junior Aleks Vukic rising two spots to No. 3 which dropped Mississippi State sophomore Nuno Borges to No. 4 and Wake Forest sophomore Petros Chrysochos to No. 5. TCU's Cameron Norrie and Ohio State's Mikael Torpegaard remained at No. 1 and No. 2. The NCAA seeding for the singles tournament mirrored the rankings to a T.
Sunday was as wild a day as it gets in the SEC with four lower ranked women's teams picking up wins with two of those wins coming over No. 1 Florida and No. 2 Georgia. The SEC is the only Power 5 Women's Conference to have its conference tournament this coming week so many of these same teams will see each other much sooner than they had probably hoped. Sunday was a day of redemption for some teams on the men's side with both Oregon and Michigan overcoming tough losses to pick up a top 25 win.
Thursday was a busy day in the SEC with eight teams in action however the highest profile match of the day didn't quite live up to expectations. Georgia, ranked No. 14, strolled into Starkville and took out the host No. 17 Mississippi State 4-0 in just under two and a half hours. The doubles point itself took just under an hour with two of the three matches going to tiebreaks. Mississippi State's No. 2 team of Mate Cutura and Vaughn Hunter won the only match that didn't go to a tiebreak. Cutura and Hunter broke from 30/40 to go up 3-2 and then they came back from 15/40 down to hold for 4-2. After an exchange of holds, Cutura and Hunter broke at love to take it 6-3.
The other two matches looked like they'd be blowouts after the way each started. Mississippi State's Niclas Braun and Trevor Foshey jumped out to a 4-1 lead at No. 1 but Georgia's Robert Loeb and Jan Zielinski came back to tie it at 4-4. Mississippi State held on the no-ad point for 5-4 and after three more holds it'd go to a tiebreak. Georgia jumped out to a 3-0 lead in the tiebreak and they wouldn't drop a point on serve and would win it 7-3.
Georgia's Walker Duncan and Wayne Montgomery jumped out to a 4-0 lead at No. 2 doubles however Mississippi State's Nuno Borges and Giovanni Oradini would come all the way back to tie it at 5-5 after breaking Georgia on the no-ad point. Each team had an easy hold to push it to a tiebreak and then Georgia went up a mini-break at 2-1 and pulled away to win it 7-5.
Sandgren dominated the opening set winning 29 of 41 points in route to taking a 6-0 set in 31 minutes. More than 5 of those minutes came when Sandgren took a medical timeout, after going up 3-0, due to a blister ripping open on his right hand during the opening game of the match. The opening game tied for the longest game of the match with Sandgren holding in a five-deuce ten-minute service game. Mena had one break point at 30/40 but he couldn't convert and he was unable to convert much of anything the rest of the set. Mena gave away too many points with an unforced error count that was in the double digits.
Tennessee at Duke (6pm est) - Tennessee has won 13 of 21 in this series with 2 of those wins coming last year with the latter coming in the 2nd round of the NCAAs. Tennessee comes into this one on a 2 match losing streak after losing a heartbreaker to Columbia and then dropping one to Oklahoma State while Duke comes in undefeated and coming off back-to-back road wins last weekend over Illinois and Northwestern. Tennessee is starting 4 freshmen while Duke starts 3 seniors and 2 juniors so I think Duke's experience comes through in this one and they get it done at home in a 4-1/4-2 type of score.
1. Mikelis Libietis (TN) vs. Jason Tahir (DU)
2. Hunter Reese (TN) vs. Nicolas Alvarez (DU)
3. Igor Smelyanski (TN) vs. Raphael Hemmeler (DU)
4. Luis Valero (TN) vs. Bruno Semenzato (DU)
5. Jack Schipanski (TN) vs. Chris Mengel (DU)
6. Jess Jones (TN) vs. Josh Levine (DU)
South Florida at Oklahoma (6:30pm est) - South Florida came into this season with some high expectations but they've hit a rough patch and lost 2 of its last 3 while Oklahoma has won easily each time out. I don't see Oklahoma letting up and they'll win going away.
1. Roberto Cid (USF) vs. Andrew Harris (OU)
2. Ignacio Gonzalez (USF) vs. Axel Alvarez (OU)
3. Oliver Pramming (USF) vs. Dane Webb (OU)
4. Sasha Gozun (USF) vs. Spencer Papa (OU)
5. Justin Roberts (USF) vs. Jose Salazar (OU)
6. Vadym Kalyuzhnyy (USF) vs. Alex Ghilea (OU)
To follow each of these matches click on the live scoring links below and as you can see you'll have tennis coverage going on from 9am to probably 10 or 11pm in Charlottesville at the NTIs so get those browsers set up to have multiple courts streaming at the same time.
As a reminder there is a tab at the top that will always have the most updated live scoring links.
Women's National Team Indoors - Charlottesville, VA
Live Scoring Link 1
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ITA Event Page
 Alabama vs. Miami - 9am est.
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Murray State at Indiana - 9am est - Live Scoring
UAB at Auburn - 12pm est - Live Scoring
Northern Arizona at Arizona - 12pm est - Live Scoring
Middle Tennessee State at Vanderbilt - 3pm est - Live Scoring
Wake Forest at South Carolina - 4pm est - Live Scoring
Florida at Florida State - 5pm est - Live Scoring & ESPN3
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Boise State at Northwestern - 5:30pm est - Live Scoring
Tennessee at Duke - 6pm est - Live Scoring & Streaming & Tennessee Blog
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South Florida at Oklahoma - 6:30pm est - Live Scoring & Streaming
New Mexico at TCU - 6:30pm est - Live Scoring
Kentucky at Illinois - 7pm est - Live Scoring & Streaming
Washington at Texas - 7pm est - Live Scoring
Baylor at Tulsa - 7pm est - Live Scoring & Streaming
Marquette at Iowa - 7pm est - Live Scoring
Cal vs. San Francisco (Bay Club SF) - 12:30am est/9:30pm pst - Cal Twitter
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