Devvarman and Rowe Vie for Men's ITA Indoor Title: Miseviciute and Mijacika Earn Spots in Women's Final
©Colette Lewis 2007--
Ryan Rowe of Illinois and Somdev Devvarman of Virginia are both seniors, but they will meet for the first time in their college careers Sunday when the play for the ITA Indoor title.
Devvarman, the right-hander from Chenai India, still has not dropped a set in the tournament after using an early break in each set to ease past freshman Alex Clayton of Stanford 6-4, 6-4.
"I knew I had my hands full today," said Devvarman. "He's one of the best, probably the best, freshman in the country. The key for me was to serve well, and to stay in points in his service games."
Devvarman did that from the outset, breaking Clayton in the first game of the match and then again at 1-1 in the second set. Although Clayton still hit his share of forehand winners, Devvarman used his quickness to run down many balls that normally don't come back, forcing Clayton to try to hit lines, or aces, to win points. And with Devvarman's serve working well throughout the tournament--he has been broken only twice in four matches--Clayton had very few opportunities to get those two breaks back.
In Rowe's 7-6(7), 6-3 victory over Adam Holmstrom of Denver, there was a grand total of one break in the match. Holmstrom had three set points in the tiebreaker, one on his serve, but couldn't convert any of them, while Rowe seized his only one.
"I was down 6-4 serving and hit an ace," recalled Rowe. "Then he actually hit a really good serve and I popped up a forehand right in the middle of the court, just got it back, and he missed it in the net."
The second set was equally close until 3-4, when the left-hander from Moline got the break and held for the win.
Rowe is looking forward to his first encounter with Devvarman, the 2007 NCAA singles champion.
"I'm pretty excited," said Rowe. "It's a preview of Virginia-Illinois; it's our second (dual) match. Somdev's a great player, obviously, winning the NCAAs, and he's a great guy. I've known him for quite a while now and I always have a great time talking to him."
Rowe's serve and volley skills are right at home on the very quick court surface of the Racquet Club of Columbus, but he thinks that Devvarman may be underrated indoors.
"Although it may not be a so-called indoor game, he moves very well," said Rowe. "He makes people play a lot of balls, even if they're hitting big flashy shots. That works indoors, and if he keeps getting the ball in play, he's going to get an opportunity."
Devvarman has heard plenty of comments about his game being more suited to slower courts and he objects to that judgment.
"I love fast courts. I don't know what people are talking about," said Devvarman, who with his semifinal win broke Brian Vahaly's school record for singles victories. "I think it suits my game well. I'm looking forward to tomorrow's match."
The women's final will feature No. 4 seed Ani Mijacika of Clemson and unseeded Aurelija Miseviciute of Arkansas. After each needed six sets of tennis on Friday to advance to the semifinals, they both were relieved to have straightforward victories over freshmen upstarts on Saturday.
Mijacika defeated Ellah Nze of Duke, who had disposed of the No. 2 and No. 5 seeds on Friday, 6-1, 6-1, and the sophomore from Croatia was pleased with her play.
"I think I played really good today," said Mijacika, a finalist at the Riveria All-American last month. "I hit a high percentage on my first serve, and I think I have a really big serve, so if that's going on, my whole game is up. I didn't give her many chances today."
Miseviciute went three sets in all her previous matches, but in her 6-3, 6-2 victory over unseeded freshman Taylor Ormond of Baylor, the junior from Lithuania didn't relent.
"Today I felt I was more focused in the beginning," said Miseviciute, who sat out the bulk of her sophomore season due to a violation of NCAA amateur rules. "Because I had two long matches yesterday, I had to prepare mentally, and that helped me stay strong throughout the match."
Mijacika and Miseviciute have not met previously.
"I didn't even get a chance to see her play in the All-American because we were always playing at the same time," said Miseviciute, who went through prequalifying to reach the quarterfinals there. "I really don't know the way she plays or anything about her, so I'll just go out there and see what happens."
Mijacika is not likely to underestimate her unseeded opponent.
"She reached the finals, so she's good," said Mijacika. "I've never seen her play, but it's going to be a tough match."
The doubles champions will also be decided on Sunday, with Virginia's Devvarman going for two titles, the second with teammate Treat Huey. The number one seeds and All-American champions rolled past the unseeded team of Chris Kearney and Taylor Fogelman of North Carolina 6-2, 6-2 to earn a spot against USC's Robert Farah and Kaes Van't Hof. The unseeded Trojans fought back to take a 3-6, 6-3, 6-4 decision over Kellen Damico and Luis Diaz Barriga of Texas.
The women's doubles finalists are both unseeded, with Notre Dame's Brook Buck and Kelcey Tefft meeting Baylor's Lenka Broosova and Zuzana Zemenova. The Fighting Irish pair eased past unseeded Macall Harkins and Anna Sydorska of TCU 6-4, 6-3, while Broosova and Zemenova outlasted Miami's Romy Farah and Caren Seenuth 6-7, 6-2, 6-2.
The men's consolation doubles finals were played on Saturday afternoon with the No. 2 seeded team of Jonas Berg and Erling Tveit of Ole Miss defeating Texas Tech's Christian Rojmar and Bojan Szumanski, the No. 3 seeded team, 8-4.
For complete draws, including all consolation results, see itatennis.com.
Marcia Frost's additional coverage of the ITA Indoor can be found at collegeandjuniortennis.com.