Wednesday had a pretty solid schedule on the men's side with five matches between top 50 teams including a pair between top 15 teams. Fourth-ranked Florida improved to 13-2 with a dominating 6-1 win at home over #13/#16 Illinois. The Gators grabbed the early lead with 6-3 wins at No. 1 and No. 2 doubles and then in singles they won five opening sets. Sam Riffice, Andy Andrade, Johannes Ingildsen, and McClain Kessler won in straight sets at 2, 3, 4, and 5 while Duarte Vale came back from a set down to win in three sets at 6. Illinois picked up its lone point from Aleks Kovacevic who came back from a set down to win 4-6, 6-3, 6-3 at No. 1 singles over Oliver Crawford.
The other top 15 matchup between #10/#7 TCU and #12/#10 Columbia saw TCU win a close doubles point and then take all six opening sets in singles before Columbia fought back to force third sets on five courts. The Horned Frogs claimed the doubles point by winning the decider at No. 1 in a tiebreak (7-5) and senior Alex Rybakov rolled to a 6-1, 6-2 win at No. 1 over #16 Jack Lin. Columbia cut the deficit to 2-1 after a 4-6, 6-3, 6-3 win by Austen Huang at No. 6 but TCU would close it out with a 6-4, 2-6, 6-4 win by Reese Stalder at No. 3 and a 6-4, 3-6, 6-3 win by Alastair Gray at No. 2. The other two matches went unfinished with TCU a game away from a win at No. 4 while Columbia was a game away at No. 5.
A pair of top 20 matches highlighted the day on the men's side while there was a top 7 showdown on the women's side.
In Winston Salem, second-ranked Wake Forest avenged an early season loss to third-ranked Virginia with a convincing 6-1 win. The Demon Deacons opened things up by taking the doubles point with a 6-4 win at No. 3 and a 7-5 win at No. 3. Wake would add five opening sets in singles, with three of them coming in tiebreaks, and they'd close four of those out in straight sets with freshman Melios Efstathiou clinching at No. 4 with a 7-6, 6-3 win. Full results available at this link.
#6 Baylor won the BNP Paribas Collegiate Challenge in Indian Wells with a 4-2 win over #16 USC. The Bears won the doubles point and added straight set wins from Matias Soto, Sven Lah, and Jimmy Bendeck at 2, 5, and 6 while USC got straight set wins from Brandon Holt and Riley Smith at 1 and 4. The match at No. 3 went unfinished with USC's Laurens Verboven leading 5-3 in the third.
The second-ranked Georgia women improved to 13-0 and 5-0 in the SEC after picking up a nice 4-2 win on the road over seventh-ranked South Carolina. Georgia dropped the doubles point for the first time since the National Team Indoors and then the teams split opening sets in singles. Georgia picked up straight set wins from Lourdes Carle and Vivian Wolff at No. 3 and No. 4 while South Carolina's Paige Cline won in straight sets at No. 2.
Georgia's Elena Christofi gave the Dawgs its first lead of the match with a 0-6, 6-3, 6-3 win at No. 5 and Meg Kowalski would clinch at No. 6 with a 6-2, 5-7, 6-2 win. The match at No 1 went unfinished at 5-5 in the third after SC's Ingrid Gamarra Martins reeled off four straight games from 1-5 down.
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.
Sunday was a day of near upsets with a pair of top 5 men's teams narrowly avoiding a big loss on the road. Second-ranked Wake Forest, who was playing without Borna Gojo (playing Canada Challenger) got all it wanted and more from #49 UCF.
The Knights took the early lead with 6-2 wins at No. 1 and No. 2 doubles and then the teams split opening sets in singles. Wake senior and ITA #1 Petros Chrysochos evened the match at 1-1 with a straight set win at No. 1 and freshman Siddhant Banthia put the Deacs ahead with a straight set win at No. 6. UCF freshman Trey Hilderbrand tied it back up with a straight set win at No. 5 but Wake freshman Melios Efstathiou won a close 7-6, 7-5 match at No. 4. Both of the remaining matches went three sets with UCF freshman Bogdan Pavel finishing first with a 6-3, 2-6, 6-4 win at No. 3 which evened the match at 3-3. In the final match on court at No. 2, Wake sophomore Bar Botzer broke UCF sophomore Alan Rubio to go ahead 2-1 in the final frame and then he added one more break to clinch with a 6-7, 6-1, 6-3 win.
Ohio State capped off a tremendous week in Chicago by knocking off defending champion Wake Forest 4-2 to win the program's second Men's National Team Indoor Championship. Ohio State got off to a quick start at No. 2 doubles as the ITA No. 7 ranked team of Kyle Seelig and Alex Kobelt cruised to a 6-1 win. Wake Forest was fairing much better elsewhere with break leads late in the match at both No. 1 and No. 3 however despite winning 6-3 at No. 1 they'd be unable to close the door at No. 3. Ohio State's Hunter Tubert and John McNally fought off a match point to break on the deciding point for 4-5 and then they fought off another match point to hold on the deciding point for 5-5. After a pair of holds, Tubert and McNally would fall behind 3-2* in the tiebreak but would go on to take the next five points to win it 7-3.
Ohio State came out strong in singles and took four of six opening sets. Buckeye junior JJ Wolf quickly made it 2-0 with a 6-0, 6-3 win at No. 1 and shortly thereafter redshirt junior Alex Kobelt made it 3-0 with a 6-3, 6-3 win at No. 5. Ohio State had set and break leads at both No. 2 and No. 4 plus Hunter Tubert was about to get a split at No. 6 so it looked like it was just a matter of time before the shutout was complete however Wake Forest showed its resiliency and came charging back.
Wake sophomore Bar Botzer put the Deacs on the board with a 6-2, 6-3 win at No. 3 and freshman Siddhant Banthia came back from 3-1 down in the third set to defeat Hunter Tubert 6-2, 2-6, 6-3. Over at No. 2, Petros Chrysochos came back from 3-4* down to force a third set against John McNally and at No. 4 Wake freshman Melios Efstathiou erased a 2-4 second set deficit to take a 5-4 lead against Martin Joyce. If Efstathiou would have been able to force a third set the tension would have been unbelievable but Joyce came back with a hold, a break, and then after falling behind 0/30 he'd take the next four points to close it out 7-5, 7-5.
For the third year in a row Ohio State and Wake Forest will meet in a meaningful match. Ohio State leads the all-time series 5-3 and has won five of the last six; of course the most important of those six came last year when Wake won 4-2 in the finals of the NCAA Championships. The other recent meeting of importance came two years ago in the semifinals of the National Team Indoors when Ohio State's Mikael Torpegaard came back from 0-3 down in the third to edge Petros Chrysochos 7-6, 5-7, 7-6(4).
Ohio State has yet to give up a point during the tournament and in singles they've only dropped five sets. JJ Wolf and Hunter Tubert are the only Buckeyes that have recorded wins in each of their three matches while Kyle Seelig is the only one that has yet to finish a match. Petros Chrysochos and Bar Botzer are both 3-0 this week for the Deacs with their other four projected starters each 1-1.
Ohio State has put out the same singles lineup in each match thus far while Wake has mixed it up at the bottom of the lineup with Julian Zlobinsky and Siddhant Banthia each starting once. Wake's Rrezart Cungu played in the first two matches but sat against UNC so it'll be interesting to see if he is in at No. 5 to play Alex Kobelt. It's also possible that Ty Tucker could make a change to his lineup and sit Kobelt while sliding in James Trotter at No. 5 but that seems unlikely because all of Kobelt's matches have been very competitive.
In doubles Ohio State has played the same teams at No. 1 and No. 3 while making a change at No. 2 after the Virginia match. In the opening two matches Alex Kobelt teamed with James Trotter (1 loss and 1 unfinished) at No. 2 but for the Texas match he teamed with Kyle Seelig and they won 6-2.
Wake Forest played the same doubles lineup in its first two matches but against North Carolina they changed things up some with Borna Gojo coming into the fold. Against UNC, Gojo played at No. 1 with Alan Gadjiev which slid Petros Chrysochos and Bar Botzer down to No. 2, and Julian Zlobinsky (Gadjiev's partner from the first two matches) teamed up Siddhant Banthia at No. 3. Further down below I have the singles and doubles results for each player from this weekend's matches.
It'll be No. 1 vs. No. 3 in the finals of the ITA Men's National Team Indoor Championships after top seed Ohio State blew past Texas 4-0 while Wake Forest fought its way past North Carolina 4-2. For the third match in a row Wake Forest found itself in a precarious position, after falling behind on several courts, but the defending NCAA and NTI champs found its way through to the finals.
Wake welcomed Borna Gojo back to the doubles lineup and his return helped spark a close win in the deciding court. Wake's Bar Botzer and Petros Chrysochos were first off the court with a 6-3 win at No 2 but UNC's Mac Kiger and Simon Soendergaard answered with a tiebreak win at No. 3. The UNC duo trailed 6-4 in the tiebreak but won the final four points to take it 8-6. In the decider at No. 1, Gojo and Alan Gadjiev fought off a pair of break points while serving at 5-5 and then they went on to cruise through the tiebreak winning by a 7-2 score.
Each team would win three opening sets in singles but the first two matches to finish would both go UNC's way. Tar Heel freshman Brian Cernoch rolled to a 6-2, 6-4 win at No. 4 and senior Bo Boyden came back from 1-4 down in the first to win 7-6, 6-2 at No. 6.
The Tar Heels had the lead at 2-1 plus they had all the momentum on each of the four remaining courts. William Blumberg was up 3-0 in the third on Borna Gojo at No. 1, Ben Sigouin was up 5-2 in the second on Petros Chrysochos at No. 2, Josh Peck was up 6-3, 4-4 on Bar Botzer at No. 3, and Simon Soendergaard was serving for the second set at No. 5. Wake needed to turn three of the four matches back in its favor and slowly over a 10 minute period they'd do just that.
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.