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.
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.
For the 2nd time in the last 3 years the Virginia Cavaliers are the National Champions after Brian Boland's team knocked off #1 Oklahoma 4-1 on a pleasant sunny afternoon in Waco.
The Wahoos came out of the gates ready to go as both its #1 and #2 doubles teams broke serve to go up 2-0. The below clip shows Ryan Shane and Luca Corinteli breaking the Andrew Harris serve from 15-40 and this came a game after Shane fought off 2 break points on his opening service game.
After Thai-Son Kwiatkowski and Mac Styslinger broke to go up 2-0 at #2, Styslinger would fall behind 0-40 on his service game. Spencer Papa and Dane Webb had their best chance to break on the 30-40 point but Webb buried an easy put away into the net (clip below) and 2 points later Virginia held for a 3-0 lead.
While they stayed on serve at #3 doubles, OU's #1 team of Alex Ghilea and Andrew Harris would get a courtesy break when Shane double faulted while serving up 4-2, 15-40. However Virginia would break back on the next game from 15-40 to go up 5-3 (clip below)
A few games later Virginia would break again to take it 8-4 on #1 doubles (match point below)
Virginia would hold on to its break lead at #2 and would pick up a break at #3 from 5-5 and that would set the stage for simultaneous match points on both courts (below clip)
With the 8-5 wins at #2 and #3 Virginia had taken the doubles point and they had the early 1-0 lead.
Virginia had also taken the doubles point in the regular season matchup in Norman so the Cavs probably didn't feel overconfident but it was definitely nice to have that point in its back pocket.
In singles play, the first break of the match came at #2 as Andrew Harris broke Mitchell Frank in the opening game but Frank would break right back to tie it at 1. They would exchange another set of breaks before Frank finally held to go up 3-2. It would stay on serve until Harris would double fault on set point to give Frank the 7-5 opening set.
Collin Altamirano would get off to quick start at #3 singles by breaking Dane Webb from 30-40 to go up 2-0 but the Dane Train would break right back from 30-40 to put it back on serve (clip)
Altamirano would break Webb again and then hold to go up 5-2. After a Webb hold for 3-5, Altamirano would fight off 2 breaks and hold to take the opening set 6-3.
Oklahoma's Spencer Papa would get the first break of the match at #5 when he broke Alex Ritschard to up 4-3. Papa would then hold and break again to take the opening set 6-3. Papa continued his stellar play by breaking Ritschard for 3-1 and then holding for 4-1. Ritschard would hold serve one more time to cut the deficit to 4-2 but Papa held and then broke from 30-40 to take a 6-3, 6-2 win which evened the match at 1-1.
Down at #4 singles Virginia's Thai-Son Kwiatkowski recovered very nicely from his grueling encounter with Diego Galeano by taking the opening set over Alex Ghilea 6-3. Kwiatkowski broke the Ghilea serve to up 3-1 in the 1st and then he consolidated the break for 4-1. Ghilea's best shot at breaking back came when TSK served for the set up 5-3. Ghilea has 3 break point opportunities but his only decent look came on this point below
Kwiatkowski would finally hit a big first serve to close out the 6-3 set.
Over at #6 singles UVA's JC Aragone and OU's Florin Bragusi would exchange service holds and head to a 1st set tiebreak. Aragone would go up 5-3 in the breaker but Bragusi would win the next 4 to take the opening set 7-6(5) - below is set point which ends with Aragone netting a backhand on the 13th shot of the rally.
At #1 singles OU's Axel Alvarez would get the first break to go up 3-2 then he'd hold for 4-2. Alvarez would eventually take the opening set 6-4 - the clip below shows a multi-shot rally in Shane's 2nd serve game (it wasn't really a relevant point but it was one of the few clips I shot from this match)
Virginia's Collin Altamirano would put Virginia ahead 2-1 when he finished off Dane Webb 6-3, 6-3 at #3. Altamirano broke Webb for 3-2 in the 2nd and then broke him again on match point (clip below)
Thai-Son Kwiatkowski would jump out to a break lead in the 2nd set at #4 thanks to hard-hitting shots like the one below.
Kwiatkowski would serve it out at love to take the 6-3, 6-4 win over Alex Ghilea and with the win Virginia was just a point away from its second national title in the last 3. (video clip isn't very good - couldn't make my over there in time after Altamirano finished)
All eyes now focused on #2 singles where Virginia's Mitchell Frank had opened up a 4-1 lead in the 2nd on Andrew Harris. Harris wouldn't go down quietly and would hold, break, and hold again to even it at 4-4. Frank would then hold at love for 5-4 and then Harris held at love for 5-5. Harris's best chance to break came when Frank served at 5-5, 15-30 but Frank came up with the nice volley winner for 30 all (clip below)
On the next point Harris was in perfect position to hit a forehand winner but he pushed it wide to give Frank a game point at 40-30 (clip below)
Harris would then push the Frank serve long and Virginia was just a game away.
Harris quickly went down 0-40 on his service game as the next 3 clips will show but he'd manage to fight off all 3 break points to get it back to deuce.
At 40 all Frank would hit a well angled forehand that Harris couldn't keep it play and that brought up match point #4 for Frank. Frank returned the Harris serve right in the middle of the court but Harris put his next shot right it into the net and that was all she wrote - Virginia wins it 4-1.
Here is the best clip of Frank's match point courtesy of UVA
In the 2 abandoned matches, OU's Florin Bragusi had just held for 1-0 in the 3rd at #6 and OU's Axel Alvarez had just been broken serving for the match at #1.
Order of Finish: Doubles (1,3,2); Singles (5,3,4,2)
Papa - 1 hour 5 minutes
Altamirano - 1 hour 34 minutes
Kwiatkowski - 1 hour 37 minutes
Frank - 1 hour 59 minutes
Post Match On The Court Comments from John Roddick
Post Match Trophy Presentation And Speech from Brian Boland
Post Match Press Conference with Brian Boland
Virginia Head Coach Brian Boland
On winning the National Championship
"Congratulation to the University of Oklahoma and John Roddick on a great season. John and I talked about playing in the final and it's too bad that anyone has to lose a match like this, but it was another great match after some outstanding tennis all week long. I couldn't be more proud of the players and the time and effort they put in this year. They really bought in to being a true team and the culture was tremendous. When they put the orange and blue on, they wear it with such pride each and every day. They make everyone around them better. It has been a great journey and I couldn't be more proud of them.
On being able to stop Oklahoma from making the comeback
"Well they have been resilient and tough all year long and we talked about that after the doubles point. I think that eleven times they have lost the doubles point this year so they've learned to deal with it when they go down in the doubles point. We certainly focused on getting off to a great start. Oklahoma did what they've done all year, which is to play hard regardless of what happens in the doubles. Yeah, it was a concern, but I was certainly happy to finish Mitchell [Frank] in the second set. Mitchell and I have been together for four years and I can't tell you how much I am going to miss this guy. I said it last time we won a national championship, that if there was one player I'd love to have on the court at the end clinching the match, it is Mitchell Frank. He is a warrior and he loves the game. He puts his heart and soul into it every day, and to his credit he really put the team above himself this year and was extremely unselfish in his approach. I think he learned a lot and it has been an unbelievable journey. We are going to miss him.
On winning a second championship
"In both cases, I am just so happy for the players that have an opportunity to experience it, because of how much work they put in throughout the year and they come and put the effort in and spend time with the coaches and the extra hours on the court. In both cases, there is nothing more special for me than to see a group of young men work hard, come together, do it the right way, and then watch them celebrate in the end. For me it is all about the players. As a staff, in both cases, I have had so many wonderful people to work with: Dustan Taylor, Andrus Pedroso, Tony Bresky, Scott Brown, and I can go on forever. I am so blessed to be around so many outstanding tennis minds and wonderful people. We are all about giving the players the best possible experience so when they work as hard as all of our teams have, this is something you really enjoy just watching them celebrate.
Virginia Senior Mitchell Frank
On clinching National Championship
"I think that it is something that is pretty unique and unlike any professional tournament or junior tournament where you are just kind of playing for yourself. There are matches with big stakes but you have all these different players and all these different fans that are yelling and screaming. It's just kind of like this wild situation and you start to kind of look around and you see matches finish and see that we are up a set on this court and kind of get an idea. Even though coach says don't look around, you have an idea what's going on. I had complete confidence that if I hadn't been able to finish it that J.C. [Aragone] or Ryan [Shane], who had just broken, was going to be able to get the job done. I was kind of relaxed given I was in that [same] spot in a more intense situation a couple years ago. It definitely forces you to zone in and today I felt pretty calm out there. I didn't feel that up and down emotionally. I had great confidence in how I was playing him and that I knew I'd get my chances. Obviously it was a very unique experience compared to anything you face in your life.
Virginia Freshman CollinAltamirano
On the match results
"I kind of went into my match knowing that a win on my court would be a big deal. It's one point, and I know a lot of the guys enjoy the kind of emotion I bring and when I get a win it usually gives guys a bit of a jump. I don't know if that is true with Mitchell. When I got the job done, I do think it helped out a little bit and it just made a more comforting feeling. It felt like we really got this and we got them on the ropes and let's finish this. Thankfully we have Mitchell Frank to finish. It's only right for you to finish it, too.
Oklahoma Head Coach John Roddick
On the match results
"First of all, I'd like to congratulate Virginia. They played a better match. They played really good tennis. We definitely had our chances, but they played a great doubles point against us, and they were very deserving today and this week. We knew all year, people didn't really talk about them as much as they normally do, and I think us and Baylor were at the top for the whole year. But we knew Virginia was right there and we knew going in that they were going to be maybe the team to beat, at least from our vantage point. We knew how good they were. Coach Boland runs a fantastic program. You play matches like this and they go either way. We didn't get a whole lot of break points today, and that's a credit to them. It's nothing that our guys did wrong. We had a really tough match yesterday against TCU, and I don't think that physically had anything to do with the result from today. I think our guys were fresh and we recovered well and Virginia had a similar thing. So give them all the credit in the world, and they're a much deserving National Champion.
On the end of the seniors' careers
"It's hard because there's special guys on our team every time this comes around. It's not like the pros where you have 10- or 15-year careers. That's probably the hardest thing, I think. I'm so proud of the guys in our program. They give us everything we ask for.
On feelings this year after making history last year
"We won indoors, which is a huge thing for our program. But from an NCAA standpoint, anything except the National Championship, which is what we wanted I don't think any one of our guys is going to shy away from that goal. We know we're a capable team and we know that we have the ability to do that. It's probably more disappointing this year than last year. Last year, we were still trying to figure out if we were a team capable of doing this. So now I think it hurts more because we know we are.
On the competitiveness between the teams
"You guys have all seen my brother play, another great competitor. Sometimes people are just better than you on a certain day. Today that was the case. We knew if we played our best tennis we'd have a chance to win, and we knew if Virginia played their best tennis they'd have a chance to win, and both teams proved that back in March. That match could've gone either way. This one was close. We had our opportunities to have it go either way. We were right on the cusp. There was a 30-minute stretch where we really decided to make it interesting, and that's a credit to our guys. We were in tough positions all day and no one gave up.
Oklahoma Sophomore Andrew Harris
On next year's prospects
"Well I've been here for two years, and we made the final this year and last year, but last year we were just kind of enjoying the ride with nothing to lose. This year we only had one goal: we wanted to win the whole thing. I'm sure we're all very disappointed that we didn't, but I'm just proud to be part of this program that's been very successful while I've been here. I think next year we're going to be very competitive to have another chance to win the whole thing again. So I guess we just have to look forward to next year.
Oklahoma Sophomore Florin Bragusi
On next year's prospects
"I'm sure we're going to grow up stronger next year. I just want to thank my coaches, as they've been great all year, but we have to put in the hard work in the fall. I'm sure we're going to be better next year. We'll be back.
MENS ALL-TOURNAMENT TEAM
#1 Doubles: Diego Galeano/Julian Lenz (Baylor) #2 Doubles: Mac Styslinger/Thai-Son Kwiatkowski (Virginia) #3 Doubles: JC Aragone/Collin Altamirano (Virginia)
#1 Singles: Ryan Shane (Virginia)
#2 Singles: Mitchell Frank (Virginia)
#3 Singles: Collin Altamirano (Virginia)
#4 Singles: Diego Galeano (Baylor)
#5 Singles: Spencer Papa (Oklahoma)
#6 Singles: Florin Bragusi (Oklahoma)
Most Outstanding Player: Mitchell Frank (Virginia)
#3 Doubles: Marie Casares/Frances Altick (VANDERBILT)
#1 Singles: Robin Anderson (UCLA)
#2 Singles: Astra Sharma (VANDERBILT)
#3 Singles: Jennifer Brady (UCLA)
#4 Singles: Courtney Colton (VANDERBILT)
#5 Singles: Hannah King (GEORGIA)
#6 Singles: Ashleigh Antal (VANDERBILT)
Most Outstanding Player: Astra Sharma (VANDERBILT)
Vanderbilt Head Coach Geoff Macdonald
On winning the National Championship
"I am rarely at a loss for words, but I am right now. It is a dream come true. It is such an elusive, difficult thing to accomplish. In a funny way, this morning I told the team I am sad that this is our last match, in terms of us as a group. We lose a couple seniors and it's part of the job, but it's been an extraordinary group. The two women to my left [Astra Sharma and Marie Casares] they work so hard on their conditioning, on their games, they study hard. Marie has a job in Nashville as an engineer. She graduated with a degree in engineering and she will be just a few blocks away and I am thrilled that she will still be with us. The great thing in this job is the relationships you form with just incredible young people. I'm just privileged to be with them and drive them around in a van."
On fighting through a close match
"We have been through so many close matches this year. As I said last night, we played the toughest schedule in the country. I kept saying to myself, I love these kids, I love the way they are competing, and I focused on that and not winning and losing, and you know I did a few superstitious things.
On Astra Sharma's performance in the tournament
"It's extraordinary. She is so deserving of MVP of the tournament. Her improvement this year is the most striking improvement I've seen in my life. It's partly work ethic. She was taught really good technique young. She is an extraordinary athlete, but her heart and her soul and her mind are really good. She has matured a lot this year. What I have enjoyed in working with her is that she is a sponge. We talk about tennis at a really high level. We are honest with each other. I can tell her stuff she is doing wrong and it's not personal. It works really, really well and the same thing with Marie.
Vanderbilt Redshirt Freshman Astra Sharma
On clinching National Championship
"I did look over, I know you are not supposed to, but I did for a while just tracking and I was really disappointed that Marie went down. I just really had to regroup and think, we are both in thirds. It is very manageable. It took a lot of discipline, I think, because both players were tracking the scores. I think really what I had to do was just let it go and focus on my match, not think too much about Marie. That's where the trust comes in because I really had the upmost faith that Marie was going to do her best in the third. I just regrouped and said, Okay, just play a set. Play one point at a time.' That's what I did and it clinched it for us.
Vanderbilt Senior Marie Casares
On losing her chance to clinch in the second set
"I did have an "oh-no moment. We could have had it now, but I knew that we were still in it and that Astra was fighting and that I was going to fight. I am here for the long haul and going into the third, I knew that I had to battle and that's what I was up for.
UCLA Head Coach Stella Sampras Webster
On the match results
"I knew that Vanderbilt was going to be a tough team. I had no idea how tough because we'd never played them. But looking at their season and probably the last 10 matches that they've played, to beat Florida, to beat USC like they did yesterday, we knew it was going to be a tough match. It was going to come down to points and today, with some tiebreakers that we played, just didn't go our way and I think that would've made a difference. We had to work really hard to get games that we won and it just came down to some of those tiebreakers. We had our best team out there, and they were just able to be a little more consistent than us. I think that made a difference. I think their doubles point was played extremely well, and I think losing that point really hurt us a bit. I'm really proud of my team and they made them earn it. We fought really hard to stay in it and we just came out a little short. I'm a little bummed for our seniors because they really wanted this. For them not to finish their career in the team championship with a win, I'm sure is really disappointing for them. Now they have the individual championships and I'm sure they'll get up for that. Vanderbilt just played better than we did.
On the late rally for UCLA
"It was going back and forth. There were times where it didn't look good, and times where it looked like we were coming back. You can see the score right there and you see what's happening and the momentum was shifting back and forth. It felt like we were in it the entire time. It never felt like we were totally out of it. I just really tried to focus on coaching players that I was coaching and trying to find a way to win. We just felt like we were going up a hill, and could never get on top. Robin [Anderson] winning and Jenny [Brady] winning helped us get on the board, but we needed a little bit more.
On Chanelle Van Nguyen's match
"I knew it was going to be tough. [Astra] Sharma has been playing unbelievable tennis and she clinched a ton of matches, so I was a little concerned there because I knew she had handled pressure pretty well. But I also knew Chanelle wasn't going to give it to her and Chanelle was gonna make her earn it. Sharma was just a little too tough, and Chanelle gave it her all. She was just fighting her way back and I just thought it would go either way. I was hoping that Sharma would get a little tighter and not be able to execute as well as she did, but she handled it extremely well.
On dj vu from last year regarding Kyle
"I was trying to keep her focused on her match because I saw Chanelle coming back. It was deuce/ad, and she was saving some match points, so I really wanted to stay on Kyle and keep her focused on her match and she did a good job just fighting back. She's been struggling with her legs a little bit and she fought really hard to stay in it. [Marie] Casares, I have to give it to her, she didn't miss a whole lot, and Kyle had to work extremely hard to get the points that she won. If it did come down to Kyle, I would've felt pretty good. I knew that she would be able to handle the situation.
UCLA Senior Robin Anderson
On how she felt after she won her singles match
"When I first looked at the scoreboard, I was a little bit nervous for our team. I knew my teammates were going to fight as hard as they could, and I started seeing them come back. I was feeling a little bit more hopeful. I really believed in my team and with the last two matches out there, I really thought that Chanelle was gonna come through. But to fight off a couple of those match points, to see her fight in her last team match, that was awesome. I'm really proud of everyone today.