©Colette Lewis 2007--
Somdev Devvarman of Virginia added to his collection of national titles with two on Sunday, while Aurelija Miseviciute of Arkansas captured her school's first national singles title at the ITA Indoor Championships at the Racquet Club of Columbus.
Top seed Devvarman, the 2007 NCAA champion, wore down unseeded Ryan Rowe of Illinois 7-6 (2), 6-2 in a classic contrast of styles. Devvarman, at 5-foot-11, uses his quickness and anticipation to control points, while the 6-foot-5 Rowe relies on his huge lefty serve and reliable first volleys to maximize his opportunities indoors. Such a throwback is Rowe that he even occasionally chips and charges when receiving, pressuring his opponent to come up with the pass under pressure.
But Devvarman did withstand the attack and it was the Cavalier senior who did not face a break point during the match. In the first set, which clocked in at well over an hour, Rowe faced four break points, two in his opening service game and two at 5-6, but the senior from Moline fought them off to reach the tiebreaker.
"As the match kept going on, I kept getting better looks on his serve and making him hit more first volleys," said Devvarman. "I think that paid off toward the end. In the breaker I made two good returns (on the only two mini breaks), and that's all I needed in the breaker, because I kept serving well."
When Rowe was broken in the third game of the second set, the match was close to over, given Devvarman's airtight service games. Throughout the course of the tournament he lost his serve only twice, once each in the second round and the quarterfinals.
"He's not known for a big serve or anything," said Rowe, "but he's obviously able to be very effective on his serve. He came up with a couple good shots here and there to get an early break in the second set, and he was able to stay tough. He just played a little better than I did today."
With his win in Saturday's semifinal, Devvarman now owns the Virginia record for most career singles victories, surpassing Brian Vahaly's 126. With an entire dual match season ahead of him, Devvarman will add substantially to his own record, but he recognizes his achievement.
"It feels good," said Devvarman. "I know I'm in good company with the all-time greats at Virginia, (Brian) Vahaly, Huntley (Montgomery), so many great players that have come out of Virginia, and it's just an honor to be there. Hopefully I won't stop right here, I'll keep going throughout the spring season. Right now I'm happy to be with the elite at Virginia."
When the unseeded Miseviciute won her semifinal match on Saturday she was in new territory for an Arkansas woman, but with a tense 6-3, 5-7, 7-6 (3) victory over No. 4 seed Ani Mijacika of Clemson, she etched her name in school history as a national champion.
Serving for the match at 5-4 in both the second and third sets, Miseviciute couldn't finish the job, but the composure of the junior from Lithuania didn't waiver. In that tenth game of the second set, she held two match points, but Mijacika denied her, and while the men's match, played on an adjacent court, wrapped up, the women plunged into the the last stanza of their nearly three hour contest.
Although the points were long and the games close, the quality of the play varied, with errors outnumbering winners. Mijacika was especially discouraged by the level of her play.
"I was missing shots that I should make easily," said Mijacika, a sophomore from Croatia. "Plus this is indoors, where the serve is the key, and I didn't have my serve today. She used her chances when she got them, was returning good and had a high percentage of first serves. She was better today."
Miseviciute, who won her 26th match in 27 played this fall, her only loss coming in the quarterfinals of the Riveria All-American to eventual champion Susie Babos, didn't seem rattled when she gave up her chances to serve out the match, despite her admission that nerves played a role.
"In the final, you feel more pressure, and at big points it's harder to stay aggressive," said Miseviciute. "You just want to win so bad."
"In the tiebreaker, I told myself not to think about the score and just play my game, and it worked out really well."
As for her mental and physical condition after prevailing in another three-set match (she won three others over the four-day event), Miseviciute was too happy to have any complaints about fatigue.
"I don't feel it now," she said, "but I'm sure I'll feel it in a little bit. But it's a good feeling; it definitely paid off, all the hard work."
While Miseviciute could savor her win, Devvarman had unfinished business, as he and partner Treat Huey were contesting the men's doubles championship. Although the All-American champions and No. 1 seeds fell behind 4-1 in the first set against the unseeded team of Robert Farah and Kaes Van't Hof of USC, the Cavaliers swept the next five games and ultimately took the match, 6-4, 6-4.
"We played a couple of loose points on my service game in the beginning," said Devvarman, "and that was the difference. But we raised our game a lot, we got a couple of good breaks for us and our energy level went up about ten notches."
One of the highlight-reel points that fed that energy was a Huey half-volley between his legs that the USC pair sent right back to him, only to watch helplessly as he lifted a perfect lob over both of them.
"It just came out," said Huey, when trying to explain the reflex that produced the remarkable shot. "The ball was behind me, so I figured I couldn't really hit a forehand or a backhand, so I had to reach back and hit it somehow."
"That's just talent," said Devvarman, who has spent many hours on the practice courts with Huey. "That's one of the less impressive things you'll see. He's capable of a lot more."
With the doubles championship, Devvarman becomes the first player since Oklahoma State's Pavel Kudrnac in 1998 to sweep both titles at the Indoor, and the fourth overall since the tournament began in 1978.
The Notre Dame pairing of Brook Buck and Kelcy Tefft earned that school's first ITA Indoor women's doubles title with a 6-3, 6-1 victory over Lenka Broosova and Zuzana Zemenova of Baylor in a battle of unseeded teams.
Buck and Tefft, who won five Supernational level titles at USTA junior events over their ten-year partnership, were excited to take one at the college level, in Buck's senior year.
"I wanted one before I left," said Buck, who, like Tefft, is from Oklahoma. "I can't imagine it being any better--our moms were here--and it's just been great."
Unlike many women's teams, Buck and Tefft are aggressive net-takers, and according to Tefft, that's a necessity for them.
"Most of the girls we're playing hit bigger balls than we do, so it could be deadly if stay back and just bang," said Tefft. "We both like being at the net better."
In the consolation singles finals, the University of Virginia claimed its third trophy of the day, as unseeded Dominic Inglot defeated No. 5 seed Bryan Koniecko of Ohio State 6-1, 6-2, while Maria Mosolova, also unseeded, won the battle of Northwestern Wildcats, taking out teammate and No. 8 seed Georgia Rose 7-6(4), 6-3.
The women's doubles consolation title went to the unseeded North Carolina team of Sophie Grabinski and Sanaz Marand, who were 8-2 winners over Duke's Amanda Granson and Melissa Mang. The men's doubles consolation final was played on Saturday.
For complete draws, visit itatennis.com. For additional ITA Indoor coverage, go to collegeandjuniortennis.com.
Sunday, November 4, 2007