The semifinals are set in Chicago with the early matches providing plenty of excitement while the later matches were a pair of shutouts. It looked like No. 3 Wake Forest, the defending National Team Indoor Champions, were going to make an early exit but thanks to freshman Melios Efstathiou the Deacs lived to fight another day.

Wake found itself down 1-0 after the doubles point with UCLA picking up wins at No. 1 and No. 3 but the Deacs came back in singles with four opening sets (note: UCLA was without its No. 2 player Keegan Smith who injured his ankle the previous day). UCLA junior Ben Goldberg put the Bruins in front 2-0 with a 6-2, 6-3 win at No. 5 but Wake senior Petros Chrysochos became the school's all-time wins leader in singles (120) with a 6-1, 6-4 win at No. 2.  Wake evened it at 2-2 after sophomore Yuval Solomon won 6-2, 6-2 at No. 6 but UCLA senior Maxime Cressy put the Bruins back ahead after a 6-4, 7-5 win at No. 1. Wake sophomore Bar Botzer tied the match at 3-3 with a 6-4, 7-6 win at No. 3 which meant the match would be decided at No. 4.

UCLA freshman Mathew Tsolakyan dropped the opening set 6-3 but then he won 10 of the next 13 games to take a 3-6, 6-3, *4-1 lead against Wake freshman Melios Efstathiou. Tsolakyan had a game point for 5-1 but Efstathiou broke on the deciding point and then reeled off another three games to take a 5-4 lead. Efstathiou had three match points at 15/40 but Tsolakyan came back to hold for 5-5. Efstathiou held on the deciding point for 6-5 and then he broke from 15/40 to close it out 6-3, 3-6, 7-5.

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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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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. 

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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 biggest coaching opening on the women's side was filled today when USC Athletic Director Lynn Swann announced the hiring of Alison Swain as the Trojans new women's head coach. Swain, who is a 2001 Williams graduate, had been coaching at her alma mater since 2007 and in those 10 years she won a staggering 8 NCAA Division III National Championships while her squads went 224-28 (.889). Swain replaces six-time Pac-12 Coach of the Year Richard Gallien who stepped down after 22 years on the job. Below are a few quotes from USC's release and the Williams College release also has some quotes as well. 

“We are delighted and excited to welcome Alison Swain to the Trojan Family,” said USC AD Lynn Swann. “She is a proven winner as a head coach. Winning a national championship at any level is difficult to do; winning 8 of them like Alison has done in a 10-year span is beyond impressive. We are confident that she can bring the Women of Troy to that championship level.

“She has a vision and a plan for our program. She is an educator and a developer of tennis players, of scholar-athletes and of women. She will create a supportive and healthy culture for our program that will lead to success in the classroom, in life and on the tennis court.”

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I tell you there is nothing quite like the first two days at the NCAA Championship site because it's action-packed from sunrise to sunset with one good match after another. The day started off with gray skies and temperatures in the 70s but as the day progressed the sun made its way out and the temperatures shot up into the mid-80s (high humidity all day though). The morning slot saw Virginia roll over Florida on the Henry Feild Stadium courts while Texas overcame the loss of the doubles point to defeat Baylor on the McWhorter courts. Then in the noon slot it was Ohio State overcoming the loss of the doubles point to defeat Oklahoma 4-3 while TCU held off a hard charging Illinois 4-1. In the late afternoon window the hometown Georgia Bulldogs upset USC 4-3 while UCLA roughed up Texas A&M 4-1. The day was capped off with the top seed Wake Forest handling Stanford 4-0 while North Carolina defeated California 4-1. The announced crowd of 1,781 hit its peak during the Georgia/USC match with many sitting up high in the grandstand to stay out of the sun.

I'll go back through each match to give you some of the highlights though with two matches going on at the same it was hard to stay on top of both. I stuck with the Texas/Baylor match to start the day, then during the second slot I started with Ohio State/Oklahoma then watched most of singles in the TCU/Illinois match and then finished up back at the OSU/OU match. I watched just about the entire Georgia/USC match since UCLA/Texas A&M wasn't that close and then in the nightcap I spent most of my time watching UNC/Cal since the result of the Wake/Stanford match wasn't ever in doubt.

 

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Wednesday, 17 May 2017 09:30

Men's Sweet 16 Previews

The opening rounds of the NCAA Tournament were completed last weekend so now it's time to look at the Sweet 16 matchups that will take place on Thursday in Athens, Georgia. There will two matches taking place at the same time with one on the main Henry Feild Stadium Courts and the other on the McWhorter Courts. The first matches start at 9 a.m. ET with the final two set to start at 7 p.m. ET though it wouldn't surprise me to see both of the 4 p.m. matches run late. Six of the eight matches will be rematches from the regular season so it'll be interesting to see how those teams do the second time around. 

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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.  

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Georgia Tech junior Chris Eubanks accepted a main draw wild card into the BB&T Atlanta Open, which is an ATP 250 event, with his opening round match scheduled for Tuesday, July 25. Eubanks has played in the main draw of the Atlanta event two years in a row though he had to go through qualies last year to do so. Eubanks has been ranked in the ITA Top 10 all year and was recently named the ACC Men's Player of the Year for the second year in a row. For more information see the release from the BB&T Atlanta Open. 

The NCAA Division II Men's Round of 16 got underway today in Altamonte Springs, Florida, with #1 West Florida, #2 Barry, #3 Columbus State, #4 Hawaii Pacific, #14 Azusa Pacific, #16 Ferris State, #18 Drury, and #23 Southwest Baptist moving on to tomorrow's quarterfinal round. Of those eight winners the only lower ranked team to win was Southwest Baptist which defeated #20 St. Mary's (TX) 5-3. The highest profile matchup in the quarterfinals will be #1 West Florida taking on #4 Hawaii Pacific. For the men's bracket click here and to see individual match results click hereThe women's round of 16 gets started tomorrow though I see that #1 BYU-Hawaii and #2 Barry are in the same quarterfinal so I'm not sure what's going on with the bracket making at the D2 level. The bracket is available here and the box scores from each match are available here. The brackets don't have any seeds listed (guess they don't do that?) so it's kind of hard to tell who is the better team without going through the rankings. 

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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. 

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