The calendar has turned to August which means several schools will be in session shortly so most of the current coaching openings should get filled sooner rather than later. Over the last week there have been three head coaching hires along with several assistant coaching hires.
University of North Florida Director of Athletics Lee Moon announced the hiring of Matt Lucas as the Ospreys new men's head coach. Lucas comes to Jacksonville after serving as the associate head coach at Buffalo last season and will replace Mark Finnegan who departed after four seasons to become the men's assistant coach at Auburn. Below are some quotes from UNF's release:
"This is a great hire for our program and we are thrilled to have Matt and all his coaching experience leading our team," said Moon. "During the interview process, Matt demonstrated a real passion for the game and developing student-athletes. Throughout his career he has been a strong teacher of the game and has a wealth of experience in both collegiate and professional tennis. He is an outstanding recruiter and has strong ties to the tennis community in North Florida. We are excited to have Matt at UNF and look forward to watching him continue and even grow the success of our men's tennis program."
"I am extremely excited about this opportunity to lead the lead the men's tennis program at the University of North Florida," said Lucas. "I want to thank Lee Moon and Nick Morrow for entrusting me with the reigns of this great program. I also want to thank UNF women's coach Mariana Cobra for her support during the interview process. It is an exciting time for the tennis program and I look forward to helping build on the past successes while striving to further the national prominence of UNF Tennis and continue competing for ASUN Championships. Our guys will also be involved in the Jacksonville community and maintain their strong performances in the classroom as well. With my ties to the area, I can't wait to get back to the River City and begin working with the team. It is a great day to be and Osprey. SWOOP!"
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 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.
Virginia won its 12th ACC Tournament Championship by defeating the top seed and top ranked team in the country Wake Forest 4-3. The Cavaliers came into the match having lost two straight against Wake Forest after the Demon Deacons beat them in last year's ACC Championship and then earlier this year in Winston-Salem. Virginia jumped out to the early 1-0 lead after picking up doubles wins at No. 2 and No. 3. UVA's No. 2 team of Thai-Son Kwiatkowski and Alexander Ritschard broke for 5-3 and then served it out for 6-3 while its No. 3 team of Collin Altamirano and JC Aragone clinched the point by breaking to win 6-4.
Virginia came out strong in singles and took four opening sets but Wake Forest's Petros Chrysochos put the next point on the board with a 6-2, 6-4 win over Alexander Ritschard at No. 1. The match didn't stay tied for long because UVA senior Thai-Son Kwiatkowski closed out Borna Gojo 6-4, 6-4 and a little while later junior Collin Altamirano made it 3-1 after defeating Dennis Uspensky 6-3, 6-4. Wake trimmed the deficit to 3-2 after Alan Gadjiev got past Henrik Wiersholm 6-4, 6-3 and then the Deacs would force third sets on each of the remaining courts.
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.
It was an exciting morning/early afternoon of tennis in Norman that ended with a pair of seeding upsets. For the second time in five days Texas Tech upset Baylor with the Red Raiders riding a hot start in both singles and doubles to take the match 3-2. Baylor's Max Tchoutakian fought off several match points at No. 2 to force a third set but shortly thereafter Texas Tech's Connor Curry clinched the win at No. 4. Check out Texas Tech's recap for all the details.
In the other match that was taking place at the same time it was the host Oklahoma knocking off Texas 4-3. The Sooners won a crucial doubles point and then with the match tied at 3-3 senior Alex Ghilea came back from 2-0 down in the third set to win the final six games to clinch the win. Check out Oklahoma and Texas's recaps for more details.
A year ago Texas Tech won 28 matches and hosted a NCAA Regional but going into tonight's match against No. 4 Baylor the Red Raiders were winless in the Big 12 while having an overall record of just 10-14. Baylor was down a man with Jimmy Bendeck (#4 singles/#2 doubles) a late scratch so BU had to make adjustments to both its doubles and singles lineup. Texas Tech took advantage of the shift and picked up wins at No. 2 and No. 3 to take the early 1-0 lead. In singles play, Texas Tech would add five first sets and both Jolan Cailleau and Jackson Cobb would win in straight sets to make it 3-0. Baylor fought back to get splits at No. 3, No. 4, and No. 5 while Texas Tech got a split at No. 2.
Baylor's Johannes Schretter, Max Tchoutakian, and Will Little would each pull through to tie the match at 3-3. Texas Tech senior Carlos DiLaura led Baylor freshman Constantin Frantzen 4-1 in the third at No. 5 but Frantzen took the next two to pull within 4-3. DiLaura broke back for 5-3 but Frantzen broke and held for 5-5 and two games later it went to a tiebreak. DiLaura went up 4-0 in the tiebreak but Frantzen rallied to tie it at 6-6. Frantzen had match points at 7-6 and 8-7 but DiLaura pulled it out 10-8.
Third-ranked Virginia had its seniors on display on Thursday against No. 18 Georgia Tech and In front of a senior-day crowd of just under 1000 the Cavs rolled to a 6-1 win. Virginia took the early 1-0 lead after Thai-Son Kwiatkowski and Alexander Ritschard broke Georgia Tech to close out a 6-4 win at No. 2. The singles portion of the match was pretty lopsided with Alexander Ritschard, Collin Altamirano, Carl Soderlund, and Henrik Wiersholm each only yielding five total games. Thai-Son Kwiatkowski won the closest match of the day 7-6, 7-6 over ITA No. 5 Chris Eubanks at No. 1 while Georgia Tech scratched out a point with a 6-3, 7-6 win by Daniel Yun at No. 6.
Virginia has four seniors on the team (Kwiatkowski, Ritschard, Aragone, Luca Corinteli) that have each played a huge role in the Cavaliers winning three national titles in the last four seasons. Virginia did a write-up on the senior class and went through each player's accolades - you can check that out at this link, and here are some match highlights from CBS 19, and here are some additional quotes from the Daily Progress.
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.
Before I preview that one here are a few others to keep an eye on today:
#31 San Diego (8-3) at #34 Texas Tech (12-4) - 1pm est - Live Scoring - San Diego is coming off a hard fought loss against USC and has wins on the year over South Carolina and South Florida while Texas Tech has only played 1 match in the last 3 weeks though has wins this year over Auburn and Mississippi State.
#24 Florida State (10-4) at #19 Wake Forest (9-4) - 4pm est - Live Scoring & Streaming - FSU is coming off a weekend where the Noles beat Louisville and gave North Carolina all it wanted despite FSU playing without its #1 Benjamin Lock who was playing in the Davis Cup. Wake has played its last 3 matches without its #1 Noah Rubin (wrist) going 1-2 in that stretch with respectable losses to Texas and Virginia and a win over TCU. This should be a very competitive match that probably finishes 4-3 on way or the other.
#28 Louisville (13-3) at #37 NC State (10-5) - 4pm est - Live Scoring & Streaming - Louisville comes off a weekend where they split with Notre Dame (W) and Florida State (L). NC State on the other hand went 0-2 last week with a close 4-3 loss to North Carolina (playing w/o Schnur) before getting plowed by Virginia 7-0. Like the FSU/Wake match this too will likely be a 4-3 match.
#42 Mississippi State (11-3) at #18 Florida (6-5)- 5pm est - Live Scoring - State has won 4 in a row with a pair of recent wins over Alabama and Arkansas while Florida has dropped 3 of its last 4. I think Florida should get the win here though State is more than capable of the upset.
#11 Vanderbilt (13-3) at #9 Texas A&M (7-2) - 7pm est - Live Scoring - Last year Texas A&M rolled into Nashville and rolled over the Dores 4-0 so this year it'll be Vandy trying to return the favor. Vandy is a stout 11-3 in doubles while Texas A&M is an equally impressive 8-1. College Station is a tough place to play so for Vanderbilt to win this one they really need the doubles point. Unfortunately for them I think Texas A&M gets the point but Vandy will put up a fight in singles. The matchup at #1 should be a good one with Gonzales Austin bringing a 14-1 dual match record into this one while Jeremy Efferding is 6-1.
Projected Singles Lineup:
1. #10 Gonzales Austin (VU 14.34) vs. #65 Jeremy Efferding (aTm 14.03)
2. Rhys Johnson (VU 13.43) vs. #71 Shane Vinsant (aTm 14.19)
3. Daniel Valent (VU 13.73) vs. #48 Harrison Adams (aTm 13.73)
4. Kris Yee (VU 13.66) vs. Arthur Rinderknech (aTm 14.15)
5. Suresh Eswaran (VU 12.87) vs. #89 A.J. Catanzariti (aTm 13.96)
6. Baker Newman (VU 12.93) vs. Max Lunkin (aTm 12.91)
Others who could play: Jordi Arconada (aTm 13.54)
#1 singles - Austin has a 14-1 dual match record and has won 2 straight after dropping his only match to Ole Miss's Nik Scholtz while Efferding is 6-1 but 2-0 playing at #1. Efferding has won 3 straight and led Georgia's Wayne Montgomery 3-0 in the 3rd in a match that didn't finish. This one will likely have a few close 7-5 type of sets and might not get to finish. I'll say Austin is ahead when the match is clinched.
#2 singles - Johnson is 5-8 on the year and has lost 2 straight while Vinsant is 2-2, with 4 additional matches not finishing, though he got blown out 6-3, 6-0 his last time out against South Carolina's Andrew Adams. I see Vinsant rebounding in this one and winning in 2.
#3 singles - Valent is 13-1 on the year and 3-0 since moving up from 4 to 3. Valent has also won 5 straight with 2 of those wins over ranked opposition. Adams on the other hand has really struggled this year with an 0-6 record and he actually was pulled from the lineup for the Aggies last match against South Carolina. I've got to go with Valent in this one though if Adams sits and Rinderknech gets moved up I could see it going the other way.
#4 singles - Yee is 8-7 in dual match play and 1-1 since dropping down from 3 to 4 in the lineup. Yee blew out Auburn's Joseph Van Dooren 6-1, 6-0 last weekend with that win stopping a 4 match losing streak. Rinderknech is a solid 7-1 and has won 7 straight since dropping his 1st dual match. Rinderknech played at #3 the last time out and picked up a 6-1, 1-6, 7-6 win over South Carolina's Thiago Pinheiro. Outside of #1 singles I think this will be the 2nd closest match and I'm going to take Rinderknech in 3.
#5 singles - Eswaran is 8-5 this year and 1-1 since moving up from 6 to 5 while Catanzariti is 5-3 though he's won 4 of his last 5. Anything other than Catanzariti in 2 would be surprising.
#6 singles - Newman is 5-5 on the year and 3-0 since moving down from 5 to 6 while Lunkin is 3-1 and the last time out he was up 4-1 in the 3rd against South Carolina's Thomas Mayronne when the team match was clinched. I'll go with Lunkin in 2 tight sets.
In my opinion Vanderbilt's best path to an upset would be to take the doubles point and pick up singles wins from Austin, Valent, and Newman. If this were in Nashville I'd probably take Vanderbilt but I think that home court advantage pays off for the Aggies. Prediction: Texas A&M 4-1