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.
Tennis was played in many parts of the country on Saturday but one place where it wasn't was in Seattle. Almost a foot of snow closed down the University of Washington and made the roads unsafe so the second day of the Women's National Team Indoors was called off. As it stands right now a full schedule will be played on Sunday with the main draw quarterfinal matches to be played at 10 am and 1 pm pacific time while the consolation matches are scheduled for 4 pm and 7 pm pacific time. The semifinals will be played on Monday with a Tuesday final though I'm not sure if they'll be another round of consolation matches played on Monday. Check out Slam.Tennis for the full schedule along with any changes that are made throughout the day.
While snow knocked out play in Seattle it was rain that did in the highly anticipated top 10 men's clash in Los Angeles between No. 7 UCLA and No. 10 Stanford. However just 12 miles away at USC there was no rain and No. 5 USC and Cal were able to play a full four plus hour classic that saw Cal come back from 1-3 down to stun USC 4-3. It was the second day in a row the Trojans led a match at home 3-1 only to see the lead disappear in heartbreaking fashion.
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."
Tulane Athletic Director Troy Dannen announced the hiring of Maria Brito as the Green Wave's new women's head coach. Brito comes to New Orleans after spending the last four season as the assistant coach at her alma mater Clemson. Brito replaces Terri Sisk who stepped down in April after going 120-75 over the past nine seasons including 22-7 this past season. Below are some quotes from Tulane's release:
"We feel very fortunate to add Maria as the leader to our women's tennis program," Dannen stated. "Her experience as both a player and coach at the highest level, and her demonstrated commitment to all aspects of an outstanding student-athlete, are tremendous assets for our program. Maria brings high energy and enthusiasm to New Orleans and Tulane University and shares our vision for Tulane women's tennis as a consistent top-25 program."
"First and foremost, I would like to thank Troy Dannen, Rob Bernardi, Mark Booras and the entire search committee for this incredible opportunity to join such a prestigious institution," Brito stated. "I am deeply grateful and humbled to be chosen to lead Tulane's Women's Tennis Program.
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.
Former Virginia Tech Hokie Sebastien Jacques is making his way across the country, by foot, after not being able to walk across a room just a few years ago. Jacques played at Virginia Tech from 2007 to 2010 but during his senior year he had to quit playing due to a lack of energy. After graduating with a degree in marketing he returned home to Magog, Canada, and after seeing several doctor he was eventually diagnosed with a pineal cystic tumor in his brain which was the cause of the energy drain. The doctors in Canada determined the procedure was too risky and the health care system wouldn't cover the cost so Jacques ended up raising $80000 and had the surgery performed in California. The surgery was a success and Jacques returned to a normal life but he decided to embark on the cross-country walk to show people that it is possible to overcome obstacles in life. Virginia Tech had a write-up on Jacques a few days ago plus there are plenty of details on his website.
The NCAA Division II Men's Championship has reached the semifinals with #1 West Florida advancing after a 5-0 win over #4 Hawaii Pacific. UWF's top player, #4 Alex Peyrot, played doubles but sat out in singles which was interesting because in the round of 16 its #2 player, Gabriel Dias, did the same thing. Next up for UWF will be #23 Southwest Baptist after the Bearcats held off #16 Ferris State 5-4 with Raul Cabalero winning the deciding match 6-2, 4-6, 7-6(1) at #4 singles. The other semifinal match will be between #2 Barry and #3 Columbus State. Barry cruised past #18 Drury 5-1 with the Bucs taking two of three in doubles and winning every completed set in singles. Columbus State ran through #14 Azusa Pacific 5-1 with the Cougars sweeping all three doubles courts (count as a point each) and then getting two straight set wins at #3 and #4. APU got its lone point when Oliver Frank, D2s top ranked player, cruised to a 6-1, 6-3 win at #1.
The latest USTA Top 25 is out with both the Wake Forest men and Florida women remaining at No. 1. The men's top four stayed the same with TCU moving up one spot to No. 5. The women's top 10 remained largely unchanged with the only real move coming when North Carolina and Stanford swapped spots at No. 3 and No. 4. Oklahoma State and Northwestern made the biggest jumps on the men's side with each coming up three spots to No. 6 and No. 21 respectively. Kentucky took the biggest fall dropping five spots to No. 24 after a loss at home to Alabama.
On the women's side, Arizona State and Texas each came up three spots to No. 17 and No. 18 respectively while Kentucky took the biggest fall dropping five spots to No. 20 after losing to LSU and Texas A&M.
Both TCU and Oklahoma State picked up big wins on Sunday with OSU defeating Texas for the first time in 10 years while TCU won in Norman for the first time since April 1977. We'll start with the Oklahoma State/Texas match which started outdoors before going indoors after the doubles point due to rain. Oklahoma State won the doubles point for the 17th time in 22 matches after picking up wins at No. 1 and No. 2 while Texas won at No. 3. Oklahoma State took four opening sets in singles and Arjun Kadhe and Lucas Gerch won in straight sets at No. 2 and No. 3 to make it 3-0. Texas's Leo Telles won in straight sets at No. 5 and Texas earned splits at No. 1 and No. 6 after dropping the first set while George Goldhoff dropped the second set at No. 4 after winning the first.
Goldhoff ended up winning in three sets to close the gap to 3-2 but Oklahoma State was right at the finish line at both No. 1 and No. 6. OSU's Julian Cash was serving up 6-3 in the third set tiebreak at No. 1 but before he could hit that next serve his teammate Tristan Meraut held on the no-ad point to close out Rodrigo Banzer 6-1, 6-7, 6-3 at No. 6. Below are clips of the match point from two different angles courtesy of Oklahoma State and below that is head coach Jay Udwadia talking about the big W.
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.
Saturday was a busy day out west with USC and Baylor advancing to the finals of the BNP Paribas Open Collegiate Tennis Challenge while Oregon defeated Tulane to win the San Diego Spring Break Tournament. Virginia played its first competitive match in a month and dominated Notre Dame in South Bend. Mississippi State, Auburn, and Florida each went on the road in the SEC and won 4-3 matches.