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Friday, October 8, 2010

Domijan Downs No. 2 Seed Cunha, Leads Three Cavaliers into Quarterfinals at D'Novo/ITA All-American

©Colette Lewis 2010--
Tulsa, OK--

Virginia freshman Alex Domijan didn't know what to expect in his first collegiate major, but after his third consecutive 6-2, 6-1 victory, this one over No. 2 seed Henrique Cunha of Duke, he's now one of the favorites to win the D'Novo/ITA All-American.

It took Domijan only an hour to eliminate Cunha, last year's ITA Rookie of the Year, despite being broken in the opening game of the match. Cunha got up 30-0 on his serve in the next game, but Domijan began to win the battle of court positioning, and he broke Cunha twice to take a 4-1 lead. There were many long points throughout the match, but Domijan was patient enough and nimble enough to keep up with his much smaller opponent, and eventually it was Cunha who would miss, generally finding the net.

Domijan closed out the first set with a break, then opened the second with another to take a 2-0 lead. Hitting confidently and moving well, he made almost no errors, and if he ever doubted he could win the match, he gave no indication of it. After breaking Cunha for the fifth time in the match, and taking a 5-1 lead, Domijan finished out the victory with ace.

Back in 2008, Domijan won the ITF Pan-American Closed in Tulsa, and he admitted that the Michael D. Case Tennis Center is a comfortable place for him.

"I like these courts. Coming from Virginia, the courts are so fast I don't have any time to hit the ball, but coming here I feel I have all the time in the world. They're a lot slower."

The court speed and higher bounces help the 6-foot-7 Florida resident, but he also cited his preparation as a key to his fast start.

"I've been working pretty hard and their practices are pretty intense, so I feel that's kind of paid off too," Domijan said, also mentioning the "ton" of good players he's been practicing with the past two months.

Two of those players have also reached Saturday's quarterfinals, making Virginia the first team since Stanford in 1990 to advance three players that far at the All-American. Junior Drew Courtney took out No. 4 seed Guillermo Gomez of Georgia Tech 6-3, 2-6, 6-4, and senior Sanam Singh, the 12th seed, made a remarkable comeback from a set and 4-0 down to take a 3-6, 6-4, 6-3 decision from Jose Hernandez of North Carolina.

Courtney will play Duke's Reid Carleton in Saturday's quarterfinal, assuring an unseeded semifinalist. Carleton continued his outstanding fall with a 6-4, 6-1 win over qualifier Ryan Thacher of Stanford. Singh's quarterfinal opponent is No. 8 seed Eric Quigley, who survived losing five straight games in the first set against Baylor's John Peers to claim a 4-6, 7-6(3), 6-1 victory.

NCAA champion Bradley Klahn of Stanford, the No. 3 seed, must be getting regular flashbacks to his run in Athens last May. After defeating No. 14 seed Marcel Thiemann of Ole MIss 7-6(5), 6-4 on Friday, a repeat of their meeting in the NCAA quarterfinals, he will face Louisville's Austen Childs, the No. 10 seed, whom Klahn beat in the NCAA final. Childs reached the quarterfinals with a 6-2, 6-2 win over Tennessee qualifier Matteo Fago.

Domijan's opponent in the quarters is No. 9 seed Alex Lacroix of Florida, whose 3-6, 7-6(3), 7-6(7) win over Rhyne Williams of Tennessee was the exact opposite of Domijan's swift and decisive victory. Three hours and 29 minutes after the match began, Lacroix earned the victory, despite seeing a 5-0 lead in the final set tiebreaker disappear. At 6-3 in that final tiebreaker, Lacroix squandered both match points on his serve with forehand errors, and then netted a backhand to make it 6-6. Williams earned a match point with a service winner for 7-6, but Lacroix hit a clean forehand winner to save it. Lacroix got his fourth match point when Williams netted a backhand, and the senior from France finally won the contentious and dramatic match when Williams netted a forehand.

Williams, who had already received a point penalty for an audible obscenity, bellowed another one after the completion of the match, and was assessed a game penalty that carried over to his second round doubles match against none other than Lacroix.

After three and a half hours of singles competition, Lacroix would have had every reason to show signs of fatigue in his two doubles matches that followed, especially given the unseasonably hot and cloudless day. But he and partner Nassim Slilam beat Williams and partner JP Smith, the defending All-American doubles champion, 8-4, then came back from 6-3 down against Domijan and his partner Jarmere Jenkins to record an 8-6 win. In Saturday's semifinals, Lacroix and Slilam will play Ohio State's Chase Buchanan and Blaz Rola, who upset No. 2 seeds Klahn and Thacher of Stanford 8-5.

In the other doubles semifinal, top seeds Carleton and Cunha of Duke will face NCAA champions Courtney and Michael Shabaz, the No. 3 seeds.

Both the singles quarterfinals and semifinals will be played on Saturday, with the doubles semifinals to follow. All of the singles quarterfinalists have assured themselves a place in the ITA Indoor draw next month without going through regional qualifying. The doubles champions also receive automatic entry into the Indoor championships.

For complete results, including the consolation brackets in singles and doubles, see the ITA tournament website.

The Riviera/ITA Women's All-American is down to the semifinals, but as of 9:30 pm CDT, no results have been posted. Check the ITA tournament site later for those results.


theironsloth said...

Good read.

This Domijan kid looks like an absolute beast.

collegefan said...

Colette, last year they changed it so only the semifinalists made the Indoors when they made 12 regions instead of 8 Did they change it back to the old way of the quarterfinalists qualifying?

Colette Lewis said...

Yes, I checked with the ITA yesterday. They changed it back to quarterfinalists this year.