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Monday, February 21, 2011

Stanford Defeats Florida 4-2 for Women's Indoor Title: Virginia Claims Record Fourth Straight Men's Indoor Championship by Blanking Tennessee

The Stanford women picked up right where they left off in May, winning the 2011 ITA Women's Team Indoor title to go with their 2010 NCAA championship. The Cardinal had beaten Florida 4-3 in Athens, with the match coming down to 5-5 in the third set of the last match on. Today in Charlottesville, Virginia, the ending was only slightly less dramatic, with two matches deep in the third set with Stanford clinging to a 3-2 lead. Tan got a late break and hold to claim a 7-5, 3-6, 6-4 win over Alex Cercone at No. 5 singles, leaving the final score 4-2 in Stanford's favor.

The other match still on court was at No. 1 singles, between senior Hilary Barte of Stanford and Allie Will of Florida. With Tan and Cercone at 4-4 in the third of their match, Will was serving for her match with Barte at 5-4, but she was broken to make it 5-5. Cercone lost her serve, Barte held hers, and suddenly Stanford had edged ahead in both matches. Will forced a tiebreaker by holding in the pressure-packed 5-6 game, but Tan held after a nearly 10-minute final game to claim the victory. At the time the match was clinched, Barte was up 5-2 in the tiebreaker against Will.

Stanford started out by winning the doubles point, which it had failed to do in the NCAA final, getting wins at the No. 1 and No. 3 positions, while Florida easily won at No. 2. Lauren Embree brought Florida even with a 6-4, 6-4 victory over NCAA MVP Mallory Burdette at No. 2, and the Gators took a 2-1 lead moments later, when Olivia Janowicz defeated Carolyn McVeigh 6-1, 6-1 at No. 6. Kristie Ahn made it 2-2, with a 6-4, 6-2 decision over Sofie Oyen at No. 3, and Nicole Gibbs put the Cardinal back in front with a 7-6(2), 6-3 win over Joanna Mather at 4. Cercone had battled back to force a third set, while Barte had done the same to assure another exciting battle between the two teams.

With No. 1 Stanford playing at home in the NCAAs this May, they are certain to be favored for a repeat title and a sweep of the team championships in 2011, but Florida is likely to have a major say in whether that comes to pass. In this story from gatorzone.com, Florida head coach Roland Thornqvist says, "we have a championship in us."

The Stanford story on the final is here. The tournament website page, with all the results, can be found here.

In top-ranked Virginia's 4-0 victory over No. 3 Tennessee, all the drama came, as it turned out, in the doubles point. After JP Smith and Boris Conkic of Tennessee had taken an 8-4 decision over Alex Domijan and Michael Shabaz at No. 1, the Volunteers needed only one of the remaining two matches. Both went to tiebreakers, with Drew Courtney and Steven Rooda taking out Ed Jones and Matteo Fago at No. 3 by 9-8(4)score. Courtney and Rooda trailed 4-2 at the change of ends, but won the final five points of the tiebreaker, to make it 1-1. A similar scenario played out at No. 2 doubles, with Tennessee's Jarryd Chaplin and Rhyne Williams leading 5-3 in their tiebreaker with Jarmere Jenkins and Sanam Singh, before Jenkins and Singh ran off the final four points. With Williams serving at 5-6, he missed his first serve, and Jenkins cracked a winner off the return of his second to give Virginia the doubles point. It was the first time that Tennessee had lost the doubles point in 22 consecutive matches.

The loss of the doubles point proved even more costly when Williams was penalized a game in his singles match for two audible obscenities after the doubles, and Tennessee quickly fell behind on nearly every other court as well. Even the return of Tennys Sandgren, who did not play doubles but did take the court for the first time in singles, having been out with an illness all weekend, did not provide a lift. An hour and 15 minutes after the singles had begun, they were finished, with Jenkins taking Fago at No. 4 6-1, 6-1, Shabaz defeating Williams at No. 1 6-2, 6-2 and Domijan clinching at No. 2 6-2, 6-4 over Smith.

Virginia is now alone in the record books, as no team, not even the Stanford dynasties, has ever claimed four consecutive team indoor championships. Seniors Michael Shabaz and Sanam Singh will complete their Cavalier careers without ever experiencing a loss in the Indoor Championships. It was the third consecutive runner-up finish for the Volunteers, added to last year's team indoor loss to Virginia, and the loss to USC in the NCAA final last May.

For more on the Virginia win, including a video, see virginiasports.com. The Tennessee perspective can be found here.

The ITA tournament website is here.