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Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Fourth Seed Poerschke Falls to Pepperdine's Rico In First Round NCAA Action Wednesday

©Colette Lewis 2006
Palo Alto CA--

Ideal tennis weather greeted the 128 players who took the court today for the NCAA Individual Championship's first round, and with 64 matches to play on just 12 courts, a rainless day was essential. After the tense and emotional 4-2 Pepperdine win over Georgia Tuesday night, I was interested to see the toll it might take on the four Georgia and Pepperdine players (two each) in their singles matches today.

Georgia's No. 1 and the tournament's second seed, John Isner didn't have any difficulty rebounding, taking a 7-5, 6-3 win over Minnesota's D.J. Geatz. But Pepperdine's No. 1, Scott Doerner, a nine seed (technically 9-16 seed, but for brevity's sake I'm going to refer to all 9-16 seeds as nines), was unable to re-energize and dropped a 7-5, 6-0 decision to Notre Dame's Sheeva Parbhu. Georgia No. 2 Luis Flores got off to a slow start and couldn't recover in time to avoid a 6-1, 7-5 defeat at the hands of nine seed Ryler DeHeart of Illinois. It was Pepperdine's No. 2 Pedro Rico who did the unexpected, taking down fourth seed Lars Poerschke of Baylor in a grueling 6-4, 6-7(2), 7-5 contest at Taube South.

"I lost to him in the first round of the All-Americans (last fall)," said Rico, who was named to the all-tournament team at No. 2 singles. "It was the same kind of match, very close," Rico said of the 6-3, 6-7(3), 6-4 loss in Tulsa, where he was seeded and Poerschke was not. "He has a big serve, big forehand, but this time it went my way."

The Baylor sophomore broke Rico at 4-4 in the third and was serving for the match, but couldn't get any closer than 30-30 in that game, and a Rico backhand winner and a double fault put the match back to even. Rico survived a break point in the next (four deuce) game and put all the pressure back on Poerschke, who hit a forehand long at 30-40 to give the Wave senior from Spain the upset.

"I've played well the whole week," said Rico. "I wanted to do well for myself because I'm a senior and I lost in the first round last year. I didn't want to go out on a down note; I was fired up, not tired" he said, although he did admit to attending a celebration Tuesday night after the team win.

The other seeds to fall on the men's side were all nines. Raian Luchici of North Carolina lost to Harel Srugo of Old Dominion; Daniel Byrnes of Oklahoma State retired to Robert Searle of Rice down 6-2, 3-0; Jerry Makowski of Texas A & M was defeated by 2005 NCAA finalist but unseeded Pierrick Ysern of San Diego 6-3, 6-3.

The women also lost one top eight seed and several nines. Zsuzsanna Fodor of California, the fifth seed, lost to Taka Bertrand of Vanderbilt 6-2, 6-3. Nine seeds eliminated were Elena Gantcheva of UNLV, by Lindsey Nelson who plays No.1 for USC but wasn't seeded; Florida's Diana Srebrovic, by Megan Moulton-Levy of William & Mary; and Srebrovic's teammate Alexis Gordon, by Suzi Babos of California. Stanford's Anne Yelsey, a nine seed, withdrew with an injury, but Stanford is well represented in the second round, as all five Cardinal women advanced.

For complete draws, see Stanford 's Official website. And for a different perspective, try the unofficial Stanford sports website thebootleg.com


Austin said...

I hate the fact that the individual tournament starts the day after the team final. A couple clear examples are Benedict Dorsch's 1st round loss after Baylor won in '04. Now granted Baylor's Ben Becker won the title, but still. Tobias Clemens from UCLA didn't bother to even play that year because he was in the final too and missed out on a chance to win the tournament his senior year. Last year Luben Pampoulov of UCLA pulled out after winning the team title the day before. Then yesterday Pepperdine's Scott Doerner fell to Parbhu of Notre Dame easily, after getting broken and losing the 1st set it seemed like all Doerner's energy and will to win was zapped and he quitely folded 6-0 in the 2nd set. In '03 Amer Delic said his arm and shoulder hurt so bad he could barely move it and it felt like it was about to "fall off" after his semifinal win in the singles tourney. They need to give these guys a break of one day.

For now on it should be the women's final on Monday(which was supposed to be the case this year til the rain took over), then the mens on Tuesday, then womens first round wednesday giving the men who have just played two matches a day for four straight days rest and get their bodies and minds ready for another 5-6 days of possible two matches a day. I mean the best players usually win these tournaments and that's what's most important, but what about a guy who could challenge for the title who had to play doubles and four straight three set matches in the team tournament. That happened to Kris Kwinta of UCLA last year. I don't think it would be the end of the world to give these guys one day off to recooperate.

No disrespect to Sheeva Parbhu because he's a good, young player, but it was just sad to see Doerner end his singles career by losing to someone he would normally beat 4 of 5 times if he was healthy because he didn't leave the court the night before until at least 11pm and who knows what time he got to bed after celebrating. Hopefully he can do well in doubles.

I don't know how in the world Pedro Rico did it, he was still on the court when the championship was clinched, but I wonder if he has anything left today, or if he manages to scrape out a win, will he be able to stand for his third round match?