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.
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.
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.
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.
Plenty of current, future, and former college players were in action today at pro events all across the globe. There are a pair of Futures events in the United States this week with one taking place on the clay in Rochester and another on the hard courts in Winston-Salem. Recent Virginia graduate Thai-Son Kwiatkowski won the longest match of the day with the former Hoo defeating TCU's Alex Rybakov in 3 hours and 11 minutes. Rybakov came back from a 4-1 first set deficit to take the set in a tiebreak 7-5 but Kwiatkowski would get a split by taking the second set in a tiebreak 11-9. Rybakov led that second set tiebreak 5-3 but he never had a match point. Kwiatkowski broke Rybakov to start the third set and he'd add another break to go up 5-2 and would close it out with a love hold to win 6-7, 7-6, 6-2.
Kwiatkowski will face recent South Florida graduate Sasha Gozun in the second round after Gozun defeated 16 year-old Jenson Brooksby 6-4, 7-6. Other players with college ties that advanced to the second round are Mikael Torpegaard (Ohio State), Winston Lin (Columbia), Alexander Knight (Michigan), Sam Monette (Indiana), Dennis Nevolo (Illinois), Charles Broom (Dartmouth), Cameron Silverman (Elon). Julian Zlobinsky (Texas), and Ohio State commit John McNally.
Ryan Shane (Virginia), Wil Spencer (Georgia), and Riley Smith (USC) scored upset wins in Winston-Salem to join the nine other players with college ties in the second round.
Shane defeated the No. 2 seed Alex Sarkissian (Pepperdine) in a pair of tiebreak sets. In the first set tiebreak Shane came back from a 4-0 deficit to take it 8-6 but Sarkissian rebounded in the second set and went ahead 3-0. Shane won three straight to even it at 3-3 and he'd break for 5-4 but Sarkissian broke at love to knot it at 5-5. After an exchange of holds, Shane raced out to a 6-0 lead in the tiebreak and ended up winning it 7-4. Shane will meet Henry Craig (Denver) in the second round after Craig defeated last year's Kalamazoo Boys 18 runner-up Vasil Kirkov 6-1, 6-3
For the second time in the last three weeks Virginia director of athletics Craig Littlepage welcomed in a new head tennis coach. The day after the NCAA team championships he named Andres Pedroso as the director of tennis and head men's coach and today he named Sara Anundsen O’Leary as the new women’s head coach. O'Leary comes to Charlottesville after spending the last three seasons as the women's head coach at Davidson where she led the Wildcats to a 45-21 (.682) record. Prior to coaching at Davidson, O'Leary was an assistant coach at her alma mater, North Carolina,
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."
After a week that's been filled with weather issues it was fitting to have the men's final play indoors after a morning and afternoon full of rain. The match was originally scheduled to start at 1 p.m. but with storms set to clear out shortly after 4 p.m. the decision was made to delay the match to see if it could be played outdoors. Unfortunately the rain hadn't stopped by 3 p.m. so therefore due to the TV commitment to ESPNU the match had to proceed indoors with a 4 p.m. start. I was told that if they didn't begin by 4 p.m. they'd lose one of the two time windows which would have meant the women's final wouldn't have made it on the air.
As I mentioned earlier in the week, Georgia's four-court indoor facility is not the ideal place to play a match because aside from the obvious that you can only play four matches at once there also wasn't much air circulation inside so it got awfully humid with all the people packed in. The other negative was the live scoring only did game scoring and not point-by-point so unless you were keeping track of the score yourself it was hard to know where things stood since you couldn't hear the chair umpire over all the noise. Once capacity was reached they stopped letting people in, similar to last year in Tulsa, so that left a sour taste in some people's mouths who traveled to Athens to see the event.
Photo by Bill Kallenberg (CapturedInAction.com)
The NCAA Championship will be decided between a pair of ACC schools, which will be meeting for the fourth time this season, so the question is can Virginia beat them again or will North Carolina cap off its magical run to the final?
Virginia won each of the three meetings during the season with the Hoos blowing out the Heels at the National Team Indoors but the other two were both 4-3 finals that came down to a third set on a deciding court. Virginia has won 19 of the last 21 matches although both of those North Carolina wins came a year ago and most of the guys on that team are still on this year's team.
Since the match is scheduled to be broadcast on ESPNU at 1 p.m. eastern its almost a near certainty that it will be played indoors at Georgia's four-court facility because the weather forecast is showing nothing but rain until later in the day. (UPDATE: NCAA has pushed back the starting time to not before 4 p.m. ET). Playing on just four-courts could definitely change the dynamics of the match because Virginia's biggest strength is its depth with the JC Aragone and Henrik Wiersholm a combined 49-5 in dual-match play. Virginia won't be able to get those guys on the court until after a match finishes up and if North Carolina can take the doubles point and a few matches up top they'll be an enormous amount of pressure on both Aragone and Wiersholm to deliver a win.
For the third day in a row the weather played a role at the NCAA Championships with a four-hour delay disrupting both men's semifinals matches. Both matches were moved up to a 10 a.m eastern start due to the shaking forecast but just before each match hit the three-hour mark the rain started to fall and it was followed by lightning which triggered an automatic 30-minute delay. Every effort was made to resume play outdoors and the courts were dry around 3 p.m but before warmups began it started raining again. The radar had been showing a three-hour window between 4 and 7 that was supposed to be good but when that window disappeared the decision was made to go inside.. Once play resumed indoors at 5 p.m. eastern, at Georgia's hot and humid four-court indoor facility, one match would be over in 60 seconds while the other lasted almost 45 minutes.
Virginia had won the doubles point 12 times in a row coming into today's match against Ohio State but the Buckeyes would put a halt to the streak after picking up wins No. 1 and No. 3. OSU's Hunter Tubert and JJ Wolf jumped out to a 3-1 lead at No. 3 and would then add a no-ad break for 5-2. Virginia's Collin Altamirano and JC Aragone broke back from 30/40 for 3-5 and then they held from 40/15 for 4-5. Wolf would slam the door shut by holding at love with an ace to give Ohio State a 6-4 win.