Buckeyes and Waves Place Two in Men's Quarterfinals; Chifchieva Ousts No. 2 Seed Mijacika in Women's Action; Devvarman and Huey Upset in Doubles Play
©Colette Lewis 2008--
The brief morning shower in Tulsa didn't dampen the spirits of any underdogs Friday in the third round of the NCAA Individual Championships. Five unseeded men advanced to the quarterfinals, while two unseeded Baylor women earned their way into the Elite Eight on a humid, warm and cloudy day at the Michael Case Tennis Center.
The tone was set early when 9-16 seed Fani Chifchieva of Auburn thoroughly dominated No. 2 seed Ani Mijacika of Clemson 6-2, 6-4. The two had never played before, and that was just fine with Chifchieva.
"The thing about me, I don't like to know who I play, I don't like to know the person, because I'm a little nervous if I know them," said the sophomore from Bulgaria, who admitted she did know that Mijacika was the No. 2 seed. "I just tried to keep the ball in play and really work my points, make her work hard so I can prepare for the short ball and finish the point. I think I did a good job with my serve. I think I had a pretty good plan for this match."
There were no surprises in the match between No. 3 seed Oleksandr Nedovyesov of Oklahoma State and Pepperdine's Andre Begemann, a 9-16 seed, because they had played in Tulsa last October at the All-American. Nedovyesov had won that encounter in straight sets, but Begemann wasn't about to change his serve-and-volley game. The senior from Germany, who did not play in the team event due to the funeral of his mother, returned for the individual championships and has looked stronger with each win. Begemann outserved the Ukrainian sophomore and the relentless pressure to pass was too much for Nedovyesov, who had difficulty with his own serve, especially as the match drew to its 6-3, 7-5 conclusion.
Begemann is joined in the quarterfinals by unseeded Wave teammate Bassam Beidas, who dropped No. 4 seed Travis Helgeson of Georgia 6-1, 6-4, for the second time in a week. Beidas had beaten Helgeson in straight sets in the team event, when the sophomore from Egypt stepped up to the No. 1 spot in Begemann's absence.
The Ohio State Buckeyes also placed two men in the quarterfinals, with unseeded sophomore Justin Kronauge getting past No. 7 seed Lars Poerschke of Baylor 6-3, 7-6(4). Poerschke seemed to struggle more in the gusty winds than Kronauge, especially on the service toss, catching it time after time, and Kronauge seemed the more assured player on the big points. Joining Kronauge in the bottom half quarterfinals is unseeded teammate Steven Moneke, who disappointed the approximately 800 Tulsa fans by defeating Golden Hurricane Arnau Brugues 7-5, 3-6, 6-4.
Moneke will meet unseeded Tennessee freshman JP Smith of Australia who has breezed through his first three matches, losing only 11 games. The top half features defending champion Somdev Devvarman of Virginia, a 6-3, 6-1 winner over Erling Tveit of Ole Miss, against Baylor Denes Lukacs, a 9-16 seed, who dropped No. 6 seed Robert Farah of Southern Cal 7-5, 6-3. Stanford's Alex Clayton, the No. 8 seed, earned a spot against Beidas with a 6-2, 7-6(5) win over unseeded Bryan Koniecko of Ohio State in the day's only match featuring two Americans. Clayton was down a break point late in the second set, but three service winners later, Koniecko's chance was gone.
The women's draw has gone more to form, with only two unseeded players--2005 NCAA champion Zuzana Zemenova and Lenka Broosova, both of Baylor--reaching the quarterfinals. Neither had it easy, as Zemenova had to hold off a spirited comeback from Fresno State's Melanie Gloria, who trailed 4-0 in the third set only to fall 6-2, 2-6, 6-3. Broosova, a sophmore, was down 4-2 in the third set to Duke's Reka Zsilinszka, before an overrule on the baseline caused the freshman to lose her focus and Broosova took advantage of the distraction to earn a 6-4, 2-6, 7-5 victory.
Broosova will meet No. 7 seed Amanda McDowell of Georgia Tech, who was down 4-0 in the first set before gaining control in her 6-4, 6-2 win over UCLA's Tracy Lin. In the other bottom half quarterfinal, USC's Amanda Fink, the No. 6 seed, will take on Chifchieva. Fink, a junior, has rolled through the opposition all week, and today took down William and Mary's Megan Moulton-Levy, a 9-16 seed, 6-2, 6-1.
The top half features No. 1 seed Aurelija Miseviciute of Arkansas against No. 8 Riza Zalameda of UCLA, the team tournament's Most Outstanding Player. For the second straight day, Zalameda dropped the first set, but advanced, today with a 4-6, 6-2, 6-4 win over Claire Ilcinkas of Cal.
Zemenova's opposition on Saturday will be No. 4 seed Maria Mosolova of Northwestern, who downed Katrina Zheltova of Sacramento State 6-4, 6-2.
Although local interest in singles is gone with the losses of Brugues and Nedovyesov, the doubles competition is making up for it. Tulsa's team of Andy Connelly and Ross Cunningham, both of whom are from Oklahoma, reached the quarterfinals by ousting No. 5-8 seed Boris Fetbroyt and Andy Orban of Maryland. And the No. 3 seeded Notre Dame team of Brook Buck and Kelcy Tefft, who also call Oklahoma home, overcame a horrendous opening set to defeat TCU's Macall Harkins and Anna Sydorska 0-6, 7-5, 6-3.
For those outside the state, the big doubles news of the day was Texas A&M's Austin Krajicek and Conor Pollock's 6-3, 6-4 defeat of Virginia's Devvarman and Treat Huey, the top seeds. The Virginia pair were aiming for the doubles "Triple Crown", having won the All-American and the Indoors, but Krajicek and Pollock played flawlessly after the first few games.
Down a break early, the Aggies got it back, and from then on showed no signs of nerves. Both got in a high percentage of first serves and gave the Cavaliers no openings to work their way back into the match.
"It probably wasn't their best tennis, " said Pollock, a junior from San Antonio. "But I think we took them out of their game a little bit. I'm sure they've had better days, but I think we did a great job of keeping them off balance, playing smart doubles."
Krajicek, a freshman, is setting his sights high now that they've knocked off the nation's top-ranked team.
"It was probably some of the best doubles we've played this year," said the 17-year-old Floridian. "But I think there's better to come."
For complete draws and scores, see the Tulsa website.