©Colette Lewis 2010--
The D'Novo/ITA All-American is assured of having an American champion, with freshman Alex Domijan of Virginia facing junior Eric Quigley of Kentucky for the 2010-11 season's first collegiate major Sunday at the Michael D. Case Center at the University of Tulsa.
Domijan, the 19-year-old from Wesley Chapel, Fla., received a wild card into the tournament as the country's top-ranked freshman, and he has used it to take college tennis by storm this week, beating No. 13 seed Javier Garrapiz of Georgia and No. 2 seed Henrique Cunha of Duke on Thursday and Friday, as well as Daniel Nguyen of USC, who clinched the national title for the Trojans in May. Domijan added two more impressive victories to his resume on Saturday, taking out No. 9 seed Alex Lacroix of Florida 6-3, 6-4 in the quarterfinals and 2010 NCAA champion Bradley Klahn of Stanford in the semifinals 7-5, 6-4. Domijan has yet to drop a set in the tournament, although he needed to save five set points against Klahn, who served for the opening set at 5-3.
Klahn, a junior from Poway, Calif., inexplicably hit three consecutive double faults serving at 15-0 in the that game, and although he did get the game back to deuce, Domijan converted his third break point with a drop shot that Klahn reached but couldn't handle. It was serving at 4-5 that Domijan faced down all five of the set points against him, despite taking a 40-0 lead in the game.
"I would either make a great shot or a stupid shot," said Domijan, who used his first serve and his forehand to get himself out of trouble in that lengthy game. "It wasn't the smartest of tennis in the first set."
After Domijan held to make it 5-5, Klahn was broken at love and Domijan served out the set without difficulty. Klahn, who had come back from a set and 4-2 down against Louisville's Austen Childs in the quarterfinals, wasn't going to panic early in the second set, and even when he lost his serve at 2-2 in a long three-deuce game, he doubtless felt he could come back. But it wasn't until Domijan was serving for the match at 5-4 that Klahn got a break point opportunity. At 30-30, Domijan double faulted to give Klahn his chance, but Domijan's forehand came through for him again. At deuce, Domijan won the point on a less characteristic winner, hitting a perfect backhand volley. But on his first match point, it was the forehand that again proved lethal, as another clean winner from that side ended the match.
Despite the big forehands Domijan took and made at the end of the match--he said that even when playing badly, he feels he can hit that shot--he tried to play more conservatively in the second set.
"I started to play with a little bit more margin, aiming more for the middle of the court, not going for the lines," Domijan said. "Especially playing a lefty in windy conditions."
Although happy to be in the final of one of the most important tournaments in college tennis, Domijan is taking a longer view of his time in college.
"It's nice, but I didn't come here to just win. It's more to try to work on things I didn't have before, try to get a little bit better. It's not really results based. Now when I come in (to the net), I try to have bigger targets, and to expect to volley. Before, it was I want to hit a winner, so I don't have to volley."
Domijan has already won an important title on court 1 in Tulsa, taking the ITF Pan American Closed there in 2008. For No. 8 seed Eric Quigley, Tulsa also has good memories.
"Last year I feel this was a breakout tournament for me," said Quigley, who upset top seed Oleksandr Nedovyesov of Oklahoma State in the opening round in 2009's All-American. "I made the quarterfinals and had some good wins. I guess I like coming back here."
Quigley had a couple of tough three-setters early in the tournament, but today he posted two convincing wins, taking out No. 12 seed Sanam Singh of Virginia 6-4, 6-1 and handing Reid Carleton of Duke his first loss of the fall, 6-4, 6-3.
Against both Singh and Carleton, Quigley was down early. Trailing 3-0 and two breaks against Singh to open the match, Quigley won six of the next seven games, and against Carleton, he also trailed 2-0 in the opening set.
"Usually I think I'm a good starter," said Quigley. "I don't know, maybe I'm not warmed up enough. I guess it's kind of worked out okay, it's woken me up. I'm down a break, I guess I can start playing now."
Against Carleton, Quigley was broken the first time he served, but that was the only time he dropped serve in the match. Carleton, who returned extremely well in his 6-1, 6-2 victory over Virginia's big-serving Drew Courtney in the quarterfinals, was less effective returning Quigley's serve, and any short returns were disposed of quickly by Quigley's devastating forehand.
"I feel like every match I've gotten stronger," said the native of Pewee Valley, Kentucky, who is the first All-American finalist from the University of Kentucky. "I'm more confident in all of my shots. Everything's going good--I think my serve could be more consistent--but I think I'm moving great, forehand's good, defense, everything's going good."
With Quigley more than two years older than Domijan, their meetings have been few, but both recall a close three-setter at the Easter Bowl in the 16s division, "forever ago," according to Domijan, who won that match. Should he win on Sunday, Domijan would be the first freshman to capture the All-American title since Ryan Wolter of Stanford in 1995.
Virginia also is in the running for the doubles title, with NCAA champions Courtney and Michael Shabaz, the No. 3 seeds, meeting unseeded Chase Buchanan and Blaz Rola of Ohio State in Sunday's final.
Courtney and Shabaz battled back to oust No. 1 seeds Carleton and Cunha of Duke 6-7(5), 6-4, 6-3 in a hard-fought semifinal that finished after 6:30 p.m. due to Carleton's two singles matches earlier in the day. Domijan is not the only freshman in the final of the season's first major; Rola, who joined the Buckeyes this fall, is also having an impressive debut. He and Buchanan defeated Florida's Lacroix and Nassim Slilam 6-4, 6-3 in Saturday's earlier semifinal.
In the consolation singles final Sunday morning, Georgia's Javier Garrapiz will play Southern California's Steve Johnson. The doubles consolation final was played Saturday with Fresno State's Remi Boutillier and Rikus de Villiers defeating Tulsa's Cliff Marsland and Ashley Watling 8-5.
All three finals are scheduled to begin at 10 a.m. CDT. For complete results, see the ITA tournament website.
At the Women's ITA All-American at Riviera, No. 1 seed Jana Juricova will play No. 2 seed Hilary Barte of Stanford for the title. Barte and Mallory Burdette will take on Keri Wong and Josipa Bek of Clemson for the doubles championship. For complete results, see the ITA tournament page.
Saturday, October 9, 2010