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.
Semifinal Saturday in the major conference tournaments brought us one huge surprise as the SEC men's host and top seed Florida was stunned by Tennessee 4-3. The Gators were riding a 15-match winning streak but Tennessee seized the early momentum after rolling through the doubles point with a 6-1 win at No. 1 and a 6-3 win at No. 2. Florida rebounded quickly in singles with Oliver Crawford, Alfredo Perez, and Duarte Vale winning in straight sets at No. 1, No. 5, and No. 6 to put the Gators in front 3-1. Tennessee countered with a straight set win by Scott Jones at No. 3 but things looked grim for the Vols when Luca Wiedenmann trailed Andy Andrade 5-3 in the third at No. 4. However the Volunteer junior would hold for 4-5, break from 30/40 for 5-5, hold for 6-5, and then break from 15/40 to win 6-4, 3-6, 7-5.
The deciding match at No. 2 between Tennessee sophomore Adam Walton and Florida freshman Sam Riffice went back and forth in the final set with several breaks being exchanged. Riffice broke Walton to go up 3-1 however Walton would break back and hold for 3-3. Walton broke again to go up 5-4 but Riffice would break back for 5-5. Walton broke for 6-5 and then he served it out from 40/15 to win it 1-6, 6-3, 7-5.
I've been traveling a lot over the last week due to a death in the family so I'm hoping to be back in the swing of things with tennis on Friday. I do have my conference tournament pages updated with all brackets and current results plus I have my live scoring page fully updated as well. Slam.Tennis has a ton of useful information as well including an interactive scoreboard and brackets so make sure you keep that open in a separate tab.
A trio of top 15 matches highlighted the mid-week slate with the TCU men, Pepperdine women, and Duke women all coming through with wins.
TCU earned a hard fought 4-3 win at home over No. 8 Texas A&M. The Horned Frogs won a pivotal doubles point with wins at No. 1 and No. 2 and then each team took three opening sets in singles. Texas A&M's Valentin Vacherot tied it up with a straight set win at No. 3 but TCU made it 3-1 with a three-set win from Luc Fomba at No. 5 and a straight set win from Sander Jong at No. 6. Texas A&M's Barnaby Smith made it 3-2 with a 4-6, 6-1, 6-2 win at No. 4 and Juan Carlos Aguilar tied it up with a 7-6, 7-5 win at No. 2. TCU senior Alex Rybakov won the decider on senior night with a 7-6, 6-7, 6-3 win over Hady Habib.
Utah and No. 12 Stanford had met 37 times headed into Sunday's men's match in Salt Lake City and despite some recent close encounters the Utes had only tasted victory once with that coming over 30 years ago. Stanford's top player Axel Geller did not play, despite suiting up on Thursday against Cal Poly, so the Cardinal had to make some adjustments to both their doubles and singles lineup and Utah rose to the occasion on senior day with its departing trio each playing a role in the 4-2 upset win.
Utah senior David Micevski and junior Slava Shainyan were the first off the court in doubles with a 6-3 win at No. 1 over Stanford's usual No 2 team of Jack Barber and William Genesen. Moments later Stanford's Sameer Kumar, who normally teams with Geller at No. 1, and Sangeet Sridhar won 6-4 at No. 2 doubles to make the match at No. 3 the decider.
Utah senior Joe Woolley and sophomore Russell Benkaim would win that decider in a tiebreak 7-2 over Alexandre Rotsaert and Timothy Sah with the Stanford pair in their usual spot at No. 3.
In singles each team would take three opening sets with Utah claiming the top three while Stanford took the bottom three.
Utah senior Dan Little made it 2-0 after rolling in his final match at home with an impressive 6-3, 6-2 win over Rotsaert at No. 1 however Stanford was closing in on wins on the bottom three courts.
The three top matches on Saturday each finished with lopsided results as the Texas men, Stanford women, and Michigan women rolled to wins over top 25 conference opponents.
Fourth-ranked Texas improved to 20-2 and snapped a four-match losing streak against No. 10 TCU with a 6-1 win. After TCU finished up its senior day activities, which celebrated the careers of Alex Rybakov and Reese Stalder, the Horned Frogs claimed the doubles point with wins at No. 1 and No. 2. Texas regrouped in singles and took five opening sets with Yuya Ito and Leo Telles winning in straight sets at No. 2 and No. 3 to give Texas a 2-1 lead. TCU battled back to force several third sets but ultimately the Horns would win them all with Christian Sigsgaard clinching at No. 1 with a 4-6, 6-3, 6-2 win over Alex Rybakov.
Texas finishes conference play next weekend with road matches at Oklahoma State and Oklahoma. TCU will have to regroup quickly with No. 8 Texas A&M coming to town on Monday and then the Horned Frogs make the same trip that Texas makes to Stillwater and Norman.
Friday afternoon's Battle for LA between UCLA and USC went down to the wire, as many of these encounters do, and in the end it was the No. 13 Bruins prevailing with a close as it gets 4-3 win over the No. 9 Trojans. UCLA jumped out to the early 1-0 lead after a 6-4 win at No. 1 doubles and a 6-3 win at No. 2. Each team claimed three opening sets in singles and four of the six matches would finish in straight sets. USC took a 3-2 lead after getting straight set wins from Brandon Holt, Laurens Verboven, and Mor Bullis at No. 1, No. 3, and No. 6 while Keegan Smith won in straights at No. 2 for UCLA.
UCLA tied it up at 3-3 after Ben Goldberg knocked off Logan Smith 7-5, 3-6, 6-3 at No. 5 which meant the decider would come at No. 4 between UCLA freshman Patrick Zahraj and USC junior Riley Smith. Zahraj won the opening set in a tiebreak 7-4 while Smith claimed the second set 7-5. Smith led 4-2 in the third set before Zahraj held, broke, and held to take a 5-4 lead. After an exchange of holds, Smith fought off a match point by holding on the no-ad point to send it to a match-deciding tiebreak. Zahraj jumped out to a 4-1 lead in the tiebreak but Smith took the next four to go up 5-4. Zahraj got the mini-break back to even it at 5-5 before Smith retook the lead at 6-5. Zahraj won both points on his serve to go up 7-6 and then after Smith tied it at 7-7 Zahraj went up 8-7. Zahraj closed it out on the next point to give UCLA the win.
The big match during the week took place in Los Angeles on Wednesday afternoon as eighth-ranked UCLA hosted ninth-ranked Pepperdine. The Bruins struck first by taking the doubles point with wins at No. 2 and No. 3 but Pepperdine quickly tied it up with a 6-0, 6-0 win by Anastasia Iamachkine at No. 6. UCLA retook the lead with a straight set win by Elysia Bolton at No. 2 but Pepperdine added straight set wins by Jessica Failla and Daria Kuczer at No. 3 and No. 4 to go in front 3-2. UCLA's Jada Hart tied the match at 3-3 with a 3-6, 6-3, 6-4 win at No. 1 but Pepperdine's Dzina Milovanovic would win the decider at No. 5 singles 6-3, 2-6, 6-3.
In men's action on Wednesday, No. 11 North Carolina defeated ACC rival No. 21 NC State 4-0. The Tar Heels took the doubles point and then added straight set wins in singles from William Blumberg, Brian Cernoch, and Bo Boyden at No. 1, No. 3, and No. 5.
Sunday was a big day for the University of Texas with the men's team edging #6 Baylor 4-3 at home in front of a national television audience on the Longhorn Network while the women's team went on the road to Stillwater and defeated #9 Oklahoma State 5-2.
The Texas men found themselves down 1-0 after dropping the doubles point at 1 and 2 but straight set wins in singles from Christian Sigsgaard, Yuya Ito, and Rodrigo Banzer put them in front 3-2. UT senior Colin Markes clinched the win at No. 5 with a 2-6, 6-0, 6-1 win over Sven Lah while BU's Will Little closed out the night at No. 4 with a win over Harrison Scott to make the final 4-3.
The Texas women were able to get the early momentum at Oklahoma State after winning the doubles decider at No. 2 in a tiebreak 8-6. In singles, Texas took four of six opening sets but the first two to finish were at No. 4 and No. 5 with Oklahoma State's Marina Guinart and Sofia Blanco winning 6-2, 6-0 and 6-3, 6-3. UT's Katie Poluta tied it up at 2-2 with a straight set win at No. 6 and Bianca Turati made it 3-2 with a 6-4, 6-2 win at No. 1. Petra Granic put the Horns over the top with a 6-4, 2-6, 7-6 (2) at No. 3 while Anna Turati followed suit with a 6-4, 7-6 win at No. 2.
The USC men finished off a weekend sweep in the Bay Area by following up a 4-2 win over #40 Cal with a 4-1 win over #10 Stanford. The Trojans won a close doubles point with Brandon Holt and Riley Smith winning 7-5 at No. 1 while Daniel Cukierman and Tanner Smith prevailed 7-6(3) at No. 3. Stanford tied it up at 1-1 with a 6-4, 6-3 win from Timothy Sah at No. 6 but USC was in control everywhere else and would add straight set wins from Daniel Cukierman, Laurens Verboven, and Riley Smith at No. 2, No. 3, and No. 4 with Verboven getting the clinch.
The Stanford women looked like they were going to be upset at #16 USC but senior Caroline Lampl refused to lose and gutted out a third set tiebreak to secure the 4-3 Cardinal win. With the score even at 3-3, USC's Rianna Valdes served for the match on two occasions at 5-4 and 6-5 but she wouldn't come close to a match point on either occasion so off to a tiebreak they went. The tiebreak was tied at 3-3 at the changeover but Lampl would take the next 3 points to go ahead 6-3 and would go on to take it 7-4. The win was Lampl's 15th straight and it came on a day when the Cardinal needed it with Emily Arbuthnott out of the singles lineup.