I've been fortunate to cover some very exciting dual matches this season, and today I added another to my list, with Texas Tech's 4-3 win over Oklahoma in the finals of the Blue Gray Classic. It's hard to top the thrill factor of a doubles point that goes to a 10-8 tiebreaker in the deciding match, but the singles had plenty of twists and turns too, and was ultimately decided with a late break in the third set at No. 1 singles, with Tech's Raony Carvalho defeating Oklahoma's Andrei Daescu. I'll be doing a full match report for the Tennis Recruiting Network, and have more information at that time about the changes that are coming for next year's Blue Gray tournament, as well as comments from both Texas Tech coach Tim Siegel, a veteran of the competition, and first-time participant John Roddick of Oklahoma. In the meantime, see the Texas Tech athletic site for their story and results.
A few random observations about today's match before I get to the ITF Junior results:
There may be a bigger shot in college tennis than Carvalho's forehand, but I haven't seen it. Although pace is amplified indoors, several of the sophomore from Brazil's shots from that side were hit as hard as any you might have seen at Indian Wells this week, maybe harder. When Carvalho is not making errors, as he didn't in the first five games of the opening set against Daescu, he is devastatingly good. Fortunately for the rest of the men playing college tennis, he doesn't always play at that level.
It was a great call by the tournament officials to move the match indoors, and it was fortunate that the Auburn indoor facility was available. Although it cleared off by 3 p.m. in Montgomery, it was miserable at match time, and waiting could have disrupted travel plans and forced play under the lights. Not many spectators made the 45 minute drive to Auburn, which wasn't necessarily a bad thing, as the viewing consists only of small bleachers next to court one.
The Big 12 is one tough conference right now on the men's side. Six of the seven teams are in the Top 25, and all are playing exceptionally well right now. It should be a very interesting conference season, which I'm sure Texas College Tennis blog will be following closely.
Now, on to the ITF junior tennis news. There were three tournaments in the Caribbean/Central America region this week, an ITF Grade 1 in Malaysia and the Copa Gerdau taking place in Brazil. U.S. players went deep in several events, with Puerto Rico's Monica Puig winning the Grade A in Brazil over American Jessica Pegula. Puig, the No. 2 seed, who is already in the ITF Top 10, has to be relieved to have won a final after several second place finishes this year, and is sure to climb even higher in the rankings with this win. For the unseeded Pegula, the 2-6 7-6(5) 6-3 loss isn't a disappointing result, and she will also get a boost in the rankings. The boys Copa Gerdau title went to unseeded Mathias Bourgue of France.
At the Grade 1 in Malaysia, Dane Webb reached the semifinals in singles and in doubles, Webb and Mitchell Krueger were also semifinalists. At the Grade 4 in Barbados, Caroline Price and Robert Livi made the singles finals, and Price won the doubles with Daria Sharapova, who trains at Bollettieri's. Trey Strobel and Ronald Powell won the boys doubles in Barbados. On clay in Panama's Grade 4, four U.S. girls made the semifinals. Fourth seed Belinda Niu defeated No. 6 Ashley Dai 6-4, 5-7, 7-5 and No. 5 Tristan Dewar beat Gabrielle DeSimone 6-3, 6-3. In the final, Niu downed Dewar 6-3, 7-6(3). Niu and DeSimone won the doubles title.
For all the results, see the ITF junior website.
Sunday, March 21, 2010