The Super Regional round is officially in the books and after the host schools started off 14-0 they finished 14-2 with the final two matches on Saturday evening producing the two seeding upsets.
In Starkville, No. 10 seed TCU knocked off No. 7 Mississippi State 4-2 in a match that finished just over six hours after it started due to a nearly three-hour rain delay that occurred early on in singles.
In the first meeting between the two earlier this year it was Mississippi State winning the doubles point but on Saturday it was TCU that took the early lead after picking up wins at No. 1 and No. 3.
Most of the first sets were five to six games in when play was stopped by lightning and then shortly thereafter the rain came which delayed things even further.
Once play resumed, Mississippi State would maintain breaks leads at both No. 1 and No. 3 and eventually Nuno Borges and Strahinja Rakic would go on to win in straight sets to give Mississippi State the 2-1 lead. The top-ranked Borges led fourth-ranked Alex Rybakov 4-1 before the delay and would take the match 6-1, 6-4 which meant he'll finish his senior year with a perfect 25-0 dual-match record. Rakic was serving up 3-2 in the first against Reese Stalder before the delay and after closing out the set 6-3 he'd take the second 6-2 to put MSU in front.
TCU freshman Luc Fomba tied the match at 2-2 with a 7-5, 6-3 win over Trevor Foshey at No. 5. The match was on serve before the rain came but after play resumed Foshey won three of the next four games to go in front 5-4. Foshey served for the set and had a pair of set points but Fomba managed to break and then he'd hold and break again to take the set 7-5. In the second set, Fomba broke for 4-2 and would hold serve two more times to close it out.
All three of the other matches would go three sets though Mississippi State's Florian Broska had a chance to close his match out at No. 6 in straight sets. Broska had match point while serving up 7-6 in the second set tiebreak but Sander Jong won the next three points to take the tiebreak 9-7.
The first day of Super Regional play brought us a few good matches and a few shutouts but they all ended with the home team coming out on top. The two closest matches of the day took place on the West Coast with Stanford edging Big XII Champion Kansas 4-3 while Pepperdine fought off a scrappy UCF team 4-2.
Stanford won its 20th straight match and advanced to the Elite 8 for the 10th year in a row but it was far from easy. The Cardinal found themselves in a 1-0 hole after Kansas won the doubles point for the 25th time in 26 matches with a 6-2 win at No. 2 and a 6-3 win at No. 3.
Each team claimed three opening sets in singles with three of the matches finishing in straight sets while the other three went the distance.
Stanford seniors Melissa Lord and Caroline Lampl gave the Cardinal the lead at 2-1 after Lord won 6-2, 7-5 at No. 2 singles while Lampl stayed perfect in dual-match play (21-0) with a 6-3, 6-3 win at No. 3.
Kansas's Maria Toran Ribes tied it at 2-2 with a 7-5, 6-4 win at No. 6 singles. Ribes's opponent Niluka Madurawe was playing in just her fifth dual-match of the season with Stanford's usual No. 6 Emma Higuchi out for unknown reason.
Stanford would go back in front after Emily Arbuthnott completed her comeback with a 5-7, 6-1, 6-4 win at No. 4 singles but Kansas's Anastasia Rychagova knotted it up at 3-3 with a 4-6, 6-4, 6-4 win at No. 1.
By the time Rychagova closed out Michaela Gordon at No. 1, Stanford's Janice Shin was nearing the finish line in the decider at No. 5. Shin dropped the opening set 6-4 but she'd come back to take the final two sets 6-4, 6-2 to send the Cardinal to Lake Nona where they'll meet No. 6 Pepperdine on Friday.
I previewed the NCAA Men's Super Regionals on Monday and now it's time to preview the NCAA Women's Super Regionals which will take place on Friday and Saturday.
Five of the eight Super Regionals will be rematches with UCLA and Washington set to meet for a third time while the two USCs (Southern Cal & South Carolina) will meet for the second time but first time on this continent after a January dual in Australia.
Pepperdine and UCF will meet for the first-time ever while Stanford and Kansas will meet for the second time with the previous match taking place 22 years in 1997.
The biggest underdog in terms of UTR Power 6s are NC State (-3.68) and USC (-3.33) while the teams with the lowest expected winning percentage according to Slam.Tennis are Oklahoma State and Michigan which have just a 3% and 4% chance to win respectively.
Slam.Tennis has the UCLA/Washington match as the closest thing to a toss-up while UTR P6s have Pepperdine/UCF and North Carolina/Oklahoma State as the two closest.
All road trips are not created equal with UCF, USC, and Kansas traveling over 1800 miles while NC State makes the short 23 mile drive up the road to Duke.
As with the men, rain could play a role this weekend with the matches at North Carolina, Vanderbilt, Georgia, and possibly South Carolina expected to see rain at some point over the weekend. As of today, the weather looks good on Friday in the Durham/Chapel Hill area so Duke shouldn't have a problem getting its match in outdoors but with rain coming Saturday maybe UNC thinks about shifting its match up a day - we'll see.
A new era begins this weekend with the introduction of the Super Regionals which will take place on campus sites across the country. Up until this point all Round of 16 matches have taken place at the finals site but a change was announced back in January 2017 with "part of the rationale for the change being to provide teams with another opportunity to generate local support and highlight their programs in a championship-caliber competition." The other main reason was to reduce the congested schedule, which always is made worse by rain, plus the new format allows for the semifinals and finals to be played on Saturday/Sunday as opposed to Monday/Tuesday.
Three of the eight Super Regionals will match teams that have already played this season with Florida and Tennessee set to meet for a third time while Virginia/Stanford and Mississippi State/TCU will meet for a second time.
There will be no first-time meetings however Columbia, Stanford and North Carolina will try to defeat Ohio State, Virginia and USC for the first-time in program history.
The biggest underdog in terms of UTR Power 6s are California (-3.1) and Tennessee (-2.56) while the teams with the lowest expected winning percentage according to Slam.Tennis are Cal and Oklahoma which are both projected to have just a 6% chance of winning.
The three matches expected to the closest according to UTR-P6 and Slam EWP are Mississippi State/TCU, USC/UNC, and Baylor/UCLA which makes sense due to the closeness of seeding.
Every team that goes on the road will be making the trip by plane with the shortest travel distance 530 miles while the longest is 2800 miles. Down below I have the distances which show Stanford, UNC, Cal, and UCLA will be traveling over 1000 miles with Stanford just short of 3000 miles.
The coldest host site will be Columbus (OH) with temps expected to be in the low 60s while the hottest will be in Gainesville (FL) with match-time temps expected to be right at 90 degrees. As of today there is a greater than 50% chance of rain on matchday at Texas, Mississippi State, and Baylor with Mississippi State the only site that doesn't have an indoor option in town (Tuscaloosa 85 miles away the closest).
The Sweet 16 is set and while eight of the nine matches played on Sunday were on the women's side it was the one men's match that was the showstopper.
Oklahoma jumped out to a quick start on the road against No. 13 Texas A&M by claiming the doubles point with 6-4 wins at No. 1 and No. 3 and then the Sooners added first sets at 4, 5, and 6.
Texas A&M's Hady Habib tied it at 1-1 with a 7-5, 6-0 win at No. 2 but OU retook the lead after Jochen Bertsch won 6-2, 6-4 at No. 6.
A&M's Val Vacherot made it 2-2 with a 6-3, 7-5 win at No. 3 but once again OU went back in front after a 6-2, 7-6 win by Ferran Calvo at No. 4.
A&M needed both of the remaining matches and it looked like they just might do it with both Juan Carlos Aguilar and Noah Schachter leading deep in the third sets at No. 1 and No. 5.
Aguilar managed to close out Spencer Papa 6-0, 4-6, 7-5 at No. 1 after breaking Papa from 30/40 on an iffy call that Papa didn't like and at No. 5 Schachter had three match points on Mason Beiler's 3-5 service game. Beiler managed to come back and hold for 4-5 and then he broke Schachter from 30/40 to even it at 5-5. Schachter broke back at love to go up 6-5 but Beiler broke from 30/40 to force a tiebreak.
Schachter won the first three points of the tiebreak and would eventually go up 6-3. Schachter had a pair of chances to close it out on his own serve but a couple of big forehands by Beiler erased them both to put it back on serve at 6-5. A service winner by Beiler tied it at 6-6 but then he netted a forehand to give Schachter a seventh match point at 7-6. Beiler went big again and forced a Schachter miss to make it 7-7 and then after Schachter pulled a backhand wide Beiler had his first match point at 8-7. Beiler wouldn't waste the opportunity and he closed it out with a forehand winner to send OU back to the Sweet 16 for the sixth time in the last seven years.
The Sweet 16 is almost set on the men's side with 15 of the 16 spots filled on Saturday (Texas A&M/Oklahoma to play on Sunday) while 8 women's teams punched their tickets as well with the other 8 to come on Sunday.
Since the field was expanded to 64 teams in 1999, in each subsequent year there has always been at least one men's national seed that has failed to advance out of its own regional and thanks to the Cal Bears, 2019 will be no different. The Pac-12 Tournament Runner-Ups knocked off Drake in the opening round on Friday and then on Saturday they got past No. 15 Illinois 4-1.
Illinois looked like it was position to take the early lead after taking No. 1 doubles 6-3 but Cal managed to win both No. 2 and No. 3 in tiebreaks to claim 1-0 lead.
Cal used the momentum from the doubles point and took four opening sets in singles. While Illinois managed to get a 7-5, 5-2 ret. win by Aleks Kovacevic at No. 1, Cal would get straight set wins from Jack Molloy, Ben Draper, and Bjorn Hoffman at No. 2, No. 4, and No. 6 with Draper's 6-4, 7-5 win the clincher. Cal's Jacob Brumm also had a commanding lead at No. 5 in a match that went unfinished.
Next up for the Bears will be a trip to Austin to face No. 2 Texas who overcame the loss of the doubles point to defeat South Florida 4-1.
The opening day of the 2019 NCAA Tournament was plagued by rain at many sites but despite the delays most of the matches went according to plan with all the national seeds in action advancing though in the 2 vs. 3 matches (I know they don't refer to them that way anymore but I will) there were several close ones. All 16 men's sites were supposed to complete their first round matches on Friday but rain wiped out play in College Station at the indoor-less Texas A&M Regional so they'll play on Saturday and Sunday. 7 of the 16 women's sites played on Friday with the matches in Stillwater being played indoors while Kansas and Denver started outdoors but moved indoors in Lawrence.
I'll start off with the closest women's matches of the day which took place in Stillwater and Nashville.
The NCAA released the Division 1 men's and women's brackets on Monday evening with very few surprises. As it was a year ago, geography playing a major role in deciding who went where with some regionals much tougher than others while a few were much weaker than others. On the men's side, Columbia, which is the No. 16 national seed, will welcome in Monmouth, Bryant, and Penn State which in the past would have been a 4, 4, and 3 regional seed. Baylor and TCU have the toughest regionals in terms of ranking with both welcoming in teams that would have had regional seedings of 2, 3, and 3.
On the women's side Kansas (No. 14) has the toughest draw with Denver, Florida, and Boston College coming to town which would have been a 2, 3, and 3 regional seed. Kansas and Denver met in last year's NCAA first round in Malibu with Kansas winning a close 4-3 match.
If all the host teams were to advance this is what the Super Regionals would look like the weekend after next.
All the conference tournaments have been completed and now we wait to see who will be selected to participate in this year's NCAA Championships. The committee will announce its selections at 6 pm and 6:30 pm eastern tonight with the men announced first and the women second. I listed all the automatic qualifiers down below and you can check out College Tennis Ranks and Slam.Tennis for their projections.The singles and doubles selections will be made on Tuesday.
Championship Sunday brought us several good matches with some decided in third set tiebreaks while others weren't as close as we thought they'd be. The two matches pitting the highest ranked teams took place in Cary (NC) as No. 4 Wake Forest met No. 5 Virginia while No. 2 Texas and No. 8 Baylor rumbled in Lawrence (KS).
Wake and Virginia split regular season meetings with each winning at home so Sunday's rubber match was expected to be close. The doubles portion of the dual was definitely close however many of the singles matches had lopsided finals. Wake wrapped up No. 2 doubles with a 6-3 win and they served for the match at No. 3 up 6-5 however Virginia would break back and Gianni Ross and William Woodall would go on to win the tiebreak 7-3. The decider at No. 1 doubles also went to a tiebreak with UVA's Brandon Nakashima and Henrik Wiersholm jumping out to a 4-1 lead en route to winning it 7-5.
Wake fought back in singles and claimed four opening sets of which they'd ultimately close them all out in straight sets.
Virginia's Aswin Lizen put the Hoos up 2-0 with a 6-4, 6-0 win at No. 6 but Wake followed suit with fairly quick wins by Melios Efstathiou (6-3, 6-1) at No. 5, Rrezart Cungu (6-2, 6-2) at No. 4, and Borna Gojo (6-4, 6-2) at No. 1.
Wake had a 3-2 lead but Virginia's Brandon Nakashima was closing in on a win at No. 2 leading Wake's Petros Chrysochos 7-6, 5-1 while Henrik Wiersholm was nearing a split at No. 3 after taking a 5-1 lead in the second set tiebreak against Bar Botzer. However both Chrysochos and Botzer would fight back with Chrysochos winning five straight games to take a 6-5 lead while Botzer took seven of the next eight points to close out Wiersholm 7-5, 7-6(6) to clinch the championship.