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Friday, November 3, 2006

Ohio State and Fresno Pacific Claim Semifinal Spots at ITA National Indoor

© Colette Lewis 2006--
Columbus, OH--

Over twelve hours of tennis was played Friday at the Racquet Club of Columbus, host of the ITA National Indoor Championships, and similar to Thursday, try as I might, it wasn't possible to watch it all. I did find time to post an update on the second round matches (see below), because the quarterfinals have a way of upstaging even the most exciting or unexpected results early in the day.

In the late evening, there were only two winners that could be considered surprises, one each in the men's and women's draws. But given the way Fresno Pacific's Jelena Pandzic and Ohio State's Steven Moneke have been playing, their victories were just more of the same.

After upsetting fourth seed Lars Poerschke of Baylor in the second round, Moneke didn't miss a beat, taking out eighth seed Erling Tveit of Mississippi 6-4, 6-2. Moneke won the Midwest Regional to earn his spot in elite field, and the Buckeye sophomore from Germany is now 15-2 on the season.

Jelena Pandzic of Fresno Pacific can top that. The NAIA champion, who reached the NCAA finals in 2004 while at Fresno State, is now 48-0 over the past two years, winning every match in straight sets. Seed sixth, she overwhelmed third seed Kristi Miller from Georgia Tech 6-0, 6-3. In the semifinals, Pandzic will face eighth seed Megan Moulton-Levy of William and Mary, who battled back from a 3-1 third set deficit to defeat Jenna Long of North Carolina 6-2, 1-6, 6-4.

The other women's semifinal is a rematch of the semifinal at last month's All-American tournament, when Melanie Gloria of Fresno State defeated Audra Cohen of Miami in straight sets. Gloria, seeded fourth, put an end to unseeded Columbus native Kirsten Flower's run with a 6-4, 6-3 decision over the Georgia Tech freshman, while Cohen, the second seed, prevailed over 2005 ITA Indoor champion Diane Srebrovic 6-4, 6-2.

The men's defending champion, UCLA's Ben Kohlloeffel, continued his excellent form with a 6-1, 6-3 victory over Old Dominion's Harel Srugo. He meets unseed Ivan Puchkarov of Oklahoma State, who battled back to defeat Wake Forest's Todd Paul 2-6, 7-5, 6-3.

The most riveting match of the evening featured two unseeded players--Luke Shields of Boise State and Stephen Bass of Notre Dame, with Bass emerging with a 1-6, 7-6 (3), 7-6 (5) victory. After the first set, there was not a sliver of advantage to be had between the two rivals, and in the third set, Shields battled back from a break down to serve for the match at 5-4. Bass saved two match points in that game to even the third set, and earned one of his own with Shields serving at 5-6, but Shields held on to force the tiebreak.

Bass took a 6-3 lead in the tiebreak and had Shields diving in desperation on two occasions, but the Boise State junior saved two match points on his two serves, the second with an ace. Bass took his time on his serve, and although Shields made an incredible get, falling to the court after digging out a shot, Bass was ready for it. He put away the volley while Shields could only watch helplessly from his seat on the court.

It was only a few weeks ago that Moneke and Bass played in the Midwest regional quarterfinals, with Moneke taking a three-set victory. Bass has certainly spent more time on court in his three victories, with four sets ending in tiebreaks, all in his favor. Moneke has yet to lose a set in the tournament and has not even needed a tiebreak in his three wins.

Saturday begins with the doubles semifinals for both men and women, followed by the singles semifinals.

For full draws, visit itatennis.com.


Claire said...

I'm a bit foggy about Jelena Pandzic's situation. I know she was r/u in the 2004 NCAA tournament playing for Fresno State then was suspended for 2005 after playing in a German league match but then she won the NAIA champion in 2006 playing for Fresno Pacific? Now she's been reinstated and is back at Fresno State. That's a 3 year span with 2 years of competition, although only one in the NCAA. So is she a junior or senior? Also, why was she granted reinstatement?

Colette Lewis said...

Pandzic was not granted reinstatement. She now attends Fresno Pacific. She is in the tournament because the ITA grants a wild card to the winner of the Small College Championships held in October in Ft. Myers.

claire said...

Thanks for clearing that up for me Collette. I've been seeing her name regularly the last year in the NAIA (hard to miss because she never loses) but when I saw it on your page I thought she must be back at Fresno State.
I get why she was ruled out of the NCAA and I agree that she did the wrong thing but its kind of a pity. She would easily be in the top 2 or 3 college players in the country and as much as I love my college (Vanguard) Pandzic deserves a bigger stage for her talents than the NAIA.