©Colette Lewis 2007--
The day after the team championships the adrenaline is gone, and not just for the players. Today, another improbably beautiful day at the Dan Magill Tennis Complex, the fans numbered in the hundreds, not the thousands, the TV trucks were gone and the press box featured a chair and a vantage point for every reporter who wanted one. After two championships in one day for the state of Georgia, it's no wonder the start of the individual singles championships feels like New Year's Day--plenty to watch, but it's being seen through the fog of celebration and sleep deprivation.
There weren't many of us around at 9 a.m. for the Jesse Levine - Treat Huey match; their families, coaches and teammates, plus the odd fan interested in seeing the undefeated freshman from Florida. I thought it was a particularly tough first round match; although Huey obviously wasn't seeded, I've seen him play some great tennis for Virginia at the All-American and the Team Indoor, and I expected he'd challenge Levine. It was 3-3 in the opening set when Levine got his first break, but he went on to take eight of the next nine games until Huey battled back, got his only break when Levine was serving for the match at 5-2 and held to make it momentarily interesting. But Levine closes on short balls better than anyone I've seen in college tennis, and his speed robs his opponents of the time to prepare for the shot they want to hit.
Huey's teammate, No. 2 seed Somdev Devvarman, was on the adjacent court, and he was facing Sheeva Parbhu of Notre Dame, an alternate who got in due to withdrawals. But Parbhu was a quarterfinalist at last year's NCAAs, and it was Devvarman who defeated him on his way to the finals.
This year's match started with Devvarman winning the first set 6-1 and taking a 4-1 lead in the second. But Parbhu dug in and before he knew it, Devvarman had lost the second set 7-5 and was down 3-1 in the third. At the two and a half hour mark, the match stood at 5-5, and a major upset was looming.
"I'm lucky to have gotten through," Devvarman said after winning the third set tiebreak 7 points to 2. "He showed lots of character; a lot of players wouldn't stick with it down 6-1, 4-1. But he did, and I learned a lesson today. I cannot let up."
By the time Devvarman had avoided the upset, Todd Paul of Wake Forest, a 9-16 seed (for simplicity's sake I will refer to all the 9-16s as 9s from now on) had already lost to LSU's Ken Skupski in a battle of left-handers. As the day wore on there were several other close calls, but only two other seeds lost in men's play; Adam Holmstrom of Denver University (9), who was beaten by Martin Sayer of Radford 7-5, 7-6 (4) and Lars Poerschke of Baylor (9) who lost to Daniel Vallverdu of Miami 7-5, 7-6 (3).
I was looking forward to the rematch between Matt Bruch of Stanford and Erling Tveit of Ole Miss who had played in the second round of the NCAAs last year, with the unseeded Tveit defeating the ninth seeded Bruch. This year the seeding status was reversed, but with Bruch healthy and coming off a win in the PAC-10 singles championships last month in Ojai, I thought it could be a great match. Unfortunately Bruch rolled an ankle at 2-1 in the first and had to retire trailing 4-1.
No. 7 seed Stephen Bass of Notre Dame, who spent the past six days with a soft cast on his right ankle, did play, and he advanced 6-2, 6-4 over Kaes Van't Hof of USC.
The women also lost three No. 9 seeds Wednesday. Jenna Long of the University of North Carolina fell to Megan Alexander of Florida 6-3, 3-6, 7-6 (3). Sarah Fansler of USC lost to Amanda Taylor of Vanderbilt 7-6 (5), 6-4, and Riza Zalameda of UCLA was beaten by Ana Cetnik of TCU 6-4, 6-3.
Top seed Audra Cohen, playing her former Miami teammate Monica Dancevic (now with Georgia),had a scare, but won the final six games of the match to take a 6-0, 4-6, 6-2 victory.
The early evening matches featured mostly players who had competed in the team finals on Tuesday.
Kristi Miller, the only Georgia Tech player who played singles in the team event yesterday in the individual draw, had no letdown. The No. 6 seed downed Nadia Abdala of Arizona State 6-3, 6-3.
Luis Flores and Travis Helgeson of Georgia won their opening matches, but team tournament Most Outstanding Player Matic Omerzel was beaten by Matko Maravic of Michigan 6-3, 1-6, 6-1.
John Isner became the all-time leader in singles victories in Georgia history when he defeated Andy Juc of Furman 6-2, 6-2. Isner passed Al Parker, who was on campus for his induction into the Intercollegiate Tennis Hall of Fame Wednesday night, with his 139th singles win.
In addition to Al Parker, the ITA inducted seven other players into the Hall of Fame this year: Steve Bryan (Texas), Harry Likas, Jr. (San Francisco), Matt Lucena (California), Todd Martin (Northwestern), Allen Miller (Georgia), Alex O'Brien (Stanford), and MaliVai Washington (Michigan).
For all the day's results, see georgiadogs.com. And for more coverage of the NCAA tournament, see collegeandjuniortennis.com.
Wednesday, May 23, 2007