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.

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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

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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,

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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."

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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. 

 

UVA Mens National Champions 1580

Photo by Bill Kallenberg (CapturedInAction.com)

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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. 

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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. 

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It's a semifinal Monday in Athens with both matches expected to be close. Originally these matches were scheduled for noon eastern but with rain expected around 2 they've been moved up to 10 a.m. Georgia and North Carolina will play on the Henry Feild Stadium Courts while Virginia and Ohio State will play on the McWhorter Courts. North Carolina is making its first-ever appearance in the semifinals while Georgia, Virginia, and Ohio State have been there on multiple occasions. 

In each of my match previews below I'll list the projected lineups with individual singles and doubles records, individual and team UTRs, team doubles records, box scores from the previous meetings this season, plus I'll make my prediction at the end. I'll give the first one away for free but to see the other you'll need to be a CTT subscriber ($9.99 month/no long term commitment required). 

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Saturday may have been a long day but it was mostly definitely a great one with one thrilling match after another. The day started off with the two-time defending NCAA Champs Virginia facing some resistance but ultimately pulling away from No. 10 Texas and winning 4-1. The match of the tournament was taking place on the McWhorter Courts as No. 3 Ohio State outlasted No. 6 TCU 4-3 in a match that lasted 3 hours and 30 minutes. The late afternoon session turned into the late night session after a five-hour rain delay interrupted play during singles. Play would resume at 11 p.m. ET and surprisingly almost 500 of the announced crowd of 2324 returned to see the hosts Georgia upset No. 5 UCLA 4-2. The final match to finish was an All-ACC affair on McWhorter that saw No. 9 North Carolina upset the top seed Wake Forest 4-2. 

 

QF Crowd

Photo by Bill Kallenberg (CapturedInAction.com)

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Saturday, 20 May 2017 00:05

Elite 8 Previews

The rubber meets the road on Saturday afternoon in Athens with an extremely competitive schedule lined up. In the noon session you'll have the two-time defending champs Virginia taking on Texas and the other match could be the match of the tournament as No. 3 Ohio State takes on No. 6 TCU. In the late-afternoon session they'll be huge crowd on hand to see if Georgia can get past UCLA while a pair of ACC rivals, Wake Forest and North Carolina, will tangle on the back courts. The temperature is expected to be in the upper 80s and may hit 90 so it'll be interesting to see how the teams from outside of the south handle the elements.  

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