The Men's National Team Indoors is less than 24 hours away from kicking off in Chicago but on Wednesday night at the Midtown Athletic Club the Illinois Fighting Illini and UCLA Bruins squared off in a top 15 dual to let the locals know what was in store for the coming days. UCLA jumped out to the early 1-0 lead after picking up a pair of 6-2 wins at No. 1 and No. 3 doubles but Illinois bounced back in singles by taking four opening sets. Illini freshman Siphosothando Montsi tied the match at 1-1 after winning his first career dual-match with a 6-1, 6-3 win at No. 6 singles. Aleks Kovacevic put the Illini in front with a 7-6, 7-5 win over Maxime Cressy at No. 1. Cressy, who won the Cleveland Challenger a few weeks ago, hadn't dropped more than 4 games in a set in his three previous matches. UCLA freshman Govind Nanda tied it back up with a 6-4, 7-5 win at No. 3 but moments later Illinois sophomore Alex Brown put the Illini back ahead with a 6-4, 4-6, 6-3 win at No. 2.
The two remaining matches were both even with No. 4 splitting sets while the match at No. 5 was tied at 3-3 in the third. Illinois sophomore Caleb Chakravarthi would break UCLA freshman Mathew Tsolakyan to go in front 4-3 and then a few games later he served it out to clinch with a 5-7, 6-0, 6-4 win.
Tuesday was a great day for Ohio State with the Buckeyes taking care of business on the court against USC while also being named as the top seed at this weekend's Men's National Team Indoor Championships in Chicago. Ohio State ran its record to 9-0 after posting its sixth shutout of the young season with a 5-0 win over No. 5 USC. It looked like the Buckeyes might start off in a 1-0 hole after going down breaks at No. 1 and No. 2 doubles but they managed to get both back on serve. Alex Kobelt and James Trotter came back from 3-5 down to clinch the doubles point with a 7-6(4) win at No. 2 and Hunter Tubert and John McNally picked up a late break to win 7-5 at No. 3. Ohio State dominated in singles and took five opening sets (only dropped 3 games total at 3, 5, 6) and ended up with four straight set courtesy of JJ Wolf, John McNally, Alex Kobelt, and Hunter Tubert at No. 1, No. 3, No. 5, and No. 6.
The loss was the third straight for USC which is the Trojans longest losing streak since April 2006.
Georgia won its fourth National Team Indoor Championship, and first since 2002, in a dramatic 4-3 thriller over defending champion and No. 2 seed North Carolina. The Bulldogs found themselves in a 1-0 hole for the third straight match after the Tar Heels cruised to a 6-1 win at No. 1 doubles and a 6-2 win at No. 2. The teams split opening sets in singles but only two of the six matches would finish in straight sets and both of those went to the team in Red and Black.
Georgia junior Elena Christofi put the Dawgs on the board with a 6-2, 6-2 win at No. 5 singles and freshman Meg Kowalski ran her collegiate record to 11-0 with a 6-2, 7-6(3) win at No. 6. North Carolina junior Alexa Graham evened the match at 2-2 with a 6-0, 5-7, 6-2 win at No. 3 but Georgia would retake the lead with a 4-6, 6-3, 6-2 win by sophomore Vivian Wolff at No. 4.
Georgia junior Marta Gonzalez was on the verge of clinching the championship after taking a 5-1 lead in the third set against Sara Daavettila at No. 2 but the Tar Heel junior wouldn't go away. Daavettila held from 40/15 to make it 5-2 and then she broke from 15/40 to make it 5-3. After going up 40/0, Daavettila fought off a match point to hold on the no-ad point for 5-4. Daavettila broke Gonzalez from 30/40 to even it at 5-5 but Gonzalez broke back on the no-ad point to go up 6-5. Daavettila broke at love to send the match to a tiebreak. Gonzalez won the opening point on Daavettila's serve but Daavettila took the next four and ended up pulling away for a 3-6, 7-6(4), 7-6(3) win.
The final match left on court was at No. 1 between North Carolina junior Makenna Jones and Georgia sophomore Katarina Jokic. As the match at No. 2 finished, the score was even at 5-5 in the third however minutes earlier Jones had led 5-2. During the changeover at 5-2 Jokic took a medical timeout and then she followed that up by taking the next four games to go up 6-5. Jones would break Jokic at love to send the match to a tiebreak however the tiebreak was all Jokic as she took it 7-2 to give Georgia the win.
"It is exciting," Georgia head coach Jeff Wallace said. "I'm really proud of this team, the coaches, and the support staff that was here. It was a total team effort, which makes it really special. Drake [Bernstein – Associate Head Coach] and I spent a lot of time talking to the team about the importance of supporting each other and being a true team and then to see them pull together like they have and lift each other up in tough situations and comeback in these tough matches that we are able to get in close fashion – really, really says a lot."
The finals are set at the Women's National Team Indoor Championships in Seattle and it'll be the No. 5 seed Georgia taking on the No. 2 seed and defending champion North Carolina. Georgia snapped Stanford's 25-match winning streak by knocking off the top seeded Cardinal 4-3 in a match that lasted just over 3 hours and 20 minutes while North Carolina beat No. 3 seed Duke 4-0 in 2 hours and 30 minutes.
Stanford jumped out to the early lead after taking the doubles point with a 6-3 win at No. 1 and a 7-5 win at No. 2 but Georgia came back strong in singles and claimed four opening sets. Georgia freshman Meg Kowalski was off the court quickly after a 6-1, 6-1 win at No. 6 and sophomore Vivian Wolff put the Bulldogs in front with a 6-2, 6-2 win at No. 4. Stanford sophomore Janice Shin evened the match at 2-2 with a 6-3, 6-2 win at No. 5 but Georgia junior Marta Gonzalez made it 3-2 with a 7-5, 6-2 win at No. 2. Stanford senior Caroline Lampl tied it at 3-3 with a 3-6, 6-3, 6-0 win at No. 3 so the match would be decided by a third set at No. 1 singles.
Georgia sophomore Katarina Jokic jumped out to a 3-1 lead in the final set against Stanford sophomore Michaela Gordon however Gordon would hold and break to even it at 3-3. Gordon went up 40/30 in her next service game however Jokic would take the next two points to break for 4-3. Jokic held at love for 5-3 and then broke Gordon from 15/40, after a Gordon drop shot sailed wide, to take it 4-6, 6-1, 6-3.
Georgia will be making its eighth appearance in the finals of the National Team Indoors with the Bulldogs going 3-4 in the previous seven. Georgia's most recent finals appearance came in 2015, a 4-1 loss to North Carolina, while their last title came back in 2002.
There was tennis played again in Seattle after snow wiped out Saturday's schedule at the Women's National Team Indoors and while most of the favorites won there was one mild upset. In an all-SEC dual, it was the No. 5 seed Georgia coming back from 3-1 down to defeat No. 4 Vanderbilt 4-3. The Commodores took the early lead with a 7-5 win at No. 1 doubles and a 6-4 win at No. 2 and then the teams split opening sets in singles. Georgia's Katarina Jokic put the Bulldogs on the board with a 4-6, 6-1, 6-2 win at No. 1 but Vandy answered seconds later with a 6-2, 7-6 win from Christina Rosca at No. 2. Vandy's Amanda Meyer extended the lead to 3-1 with a 4-6, 7-5, 6-3 win at No. 4 and it looked like the match was all but over with Emily Smith leading 5-0 in the third at No. 5. However, Georgia junior Elena Christofi would win the next seven games to close it out 6-4, 3-6, 7-5. The Christofi comeback changed the momentum on the rest of the courts as well and both Meg Kowalski and Lourdes Carle would pull away in their third sets to complete the 4-3 Georgia win.
"We won a lot of third set matches today, and it was super exciting out there," said Georgia coach Jeff Wallace. "This was our biggest test so far, and we knew anybody you play out here is going to be really good, and it's going to be a battle. It takes a lot of maturity and discipline to hang in there like Elena did after getting down 5-0 and fighting back. Katarina (Jokic) got us on the board at No. 1 with a big win in a matchup of two of the best players in the country and then two freshmen came through in Meg (Kowalski) and Lourdes.
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.
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.
It's Friday which means we have another action packed weekend of tennis upon us. The big event on the women's side is the ITA National Team Indoors in Seattle. There has already been a change to Friday's schedule with 4 to 6 inches of snow in the forecast. The opening matches will be moved up from 9 am to 8 am pacific, the second pair of matches which were originally scheduled for 12 noon will start at 10 am, the third pair of matches were moved up from 3 pm to 12 pm, and the final matches were moved up from 6:30pm to 2pm. All matches on Friday will start with singles with doubles only being played if the match is tied at 3-3. All the updated match times are available on my live scoring page and over on Slam.Tennis. According to this release from the University of Washington, all of Saturday's matches have been cancelled however I've yet to see any confirmation of this from the ITA. (Update: there will be no tennis played on Saturday at the University of Washington - there may be a limited number of matches played at the Seattle Tennis Club however that decision will be made later on Friday)
There are also going to be plenty of good matches this weekend on the men's side. Some of the more intriguing matches on Friday are #1 Wake Forest at #13 Virginia (will be a non-conference match), #10 Stanford visits #5 USC, and #2 Ohio State hosts Arizona State, On Saturday #3 Mississippi State will play #19 Tulane in a neutral site match in Lubbock, Stanford will close out its LA road trip at #7 UCLA, #14 Illinois will host #8 North Carolina, and #17 Tennessee and Duke will meet in Lake Nona in a match to be carried live by the Tennis Channel. To close out the weekend on Sunday, #2 Ohio State will host #24 Georgia, #1 Wake Forest hosts #9 Baylor, and #15 TCU welcomes in #4 Florida. To follow all of these matches check out my live scoring page which also has links to several other matches.
Notre Dame, ranked No. 11, went into Wednesday's night home clash against No. 14 Illinois with an undefeated record and seeking a fourth win over a top 15 opponent but despite a great start in singles they'd be unable to hang on as Illinois came storming back from a 3-1 deficit to win 4-3. Illinois, which was playing just its second match of the season after getting an automatic berth into the National Indoors due to being the host, jumped out to the early 1-0 lead after claiming doubles wins at No. 1 and No. 2. Notre Dame came back in singles and won all six opening sets and would finish three out in straight sets with Alex Lebedev, Tristan McCormick, and Guillermo Cabrera winning at No. 1, No. 4, and No. 6.
Illinois managed to get splits on the other three courts and one by one they'd all fall the way of the Illini. Zeke Clark cut the deficit to 3-2 with a 4-6, 6-4, 6-4 win at No. 3 and Caleb Chakravarthi tied it at 3-3 with a 2-6, 6-4, 6-2 win at No. 5. The deciding match at No. 2 would be a back and forth affair with Illinois junior Aleks Kovacevic coming out on top over Notre Dame sophomore Richard Ciamarra 6-7, 6-2, 6-4. Ciamarra went up a break at 4-3 in the third but Kovacevic broke back, held, and broke again to close it out.
Boston College pulled off the upset of the day on Sunday with a historic first-ever top 10 win when it upset No. 10 Syracuse 4-3 in a match that started before noon but almost lasted until the kickoff of the Super Bowl. The Eagles, now 7-0, jumped out to the early lead with what turned out to be a crucial doubles point with wins at No. 2 and No. 3. Syracuse bounced back in singles and took the opening set on three of the four courts in action however each team would claim two wins a piece which meant it'd come down to the final two matches to go on court at No. 5 and No. 6. Syracuse tied it up at 3-3 with a straight set win at No. 6 but BC would get the clincher from freshman Laura Lopez who picked up a 7-6, 6-3 at No. 5.
"I am so proud of how hard our girls compete," said head coach Nigel Bentley. "They have worked so hard. They understand there are no short cuts. They earned an awesome win today against a top-10 team. Our captain senior Jackie Urbinati had another amazing third set comeback and everyone really fed off her energy. Yufei Long was outstanding beating one of the nation's top players."
"To watch Laura get her first ACC win under that kind of pressure was tremendous to witness. The doubles teams battled hard every point, and everybody contributed to this complete team win. I'm very happy for our team and program, it's a great day for BC women's tennis."