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Sunday, April 24, 2011

Carolina Women Take ACC Title in Thriller; Gators Sweep SEC Tournaments; Virginia Men Win ACC Again; Pro Circuit Update

The ACC women's tournament specializes in titles decided by tiebreakers in the third set of the last match on.

In 2008 Clemson's Carol Salge beat Reka Zsilinzska of Duke in a deciding tiebreaker to win the title; the following year, Zsilinzska turned the tables, winning a deciding tiebreaker over Miami's Bianca Eichkorn to give the Blue Devils the tournament title. After a ho-hum 6-4 in the third win by Georgia Tech's Irina Falconi gave the Yellow Jackets a 4-3 win over North Carolina last year, it was the Tar Heels who provided the drama this year, with Shinann Featherston defeating Florida State's Noemie Scharl 6-4, 3-6, 7-6(4) at No. 3 singles deliver the 4-3 victory, earning North Carolina its first ACC tournament title since 2002.

There hasn't been nearly as much parity and suspense on the men's side of the ACC, as Virginia today collected its fifth straight ACC tournament title, defeating Duke 4-0. Virginia took the doubles point and got wins from their top three--Shabaz, Domijan and Singh--in singles.

In the SEC, both the Florida men and Florida women claimed the tournament titles, with the men defeating Kentucky 4-0 at home and the women shutting out their hosts Tennessee. Although the men's score looks convincing, the other three matches were in third sets when Nassim Slilam defeated Brad Cox 4-6, 6-4, 6-3 at No. 3 to clinch the title.

In Knoxville, the Florida women got the doubles point and victories from Allie Will, Olivia Janowicz and Alex Cercone to claim its 17th SEC tournament title in its 24-year history.

In the Big Ten, the Ohio State men beat Purdue 7-0 to claim their sixth straight conference title. The Big Ten men's tournament is next weekend in Madison, Wisc.

The Pro Circuit has been rather quiet lately, but this week there is a men's $10,000 Futures event in Vero Beach, a $50,000 tournament for women in Charlotteville, Va. and a $75,000 Challenger for men in Sarasota.

The Vero Beach qualifying draw of 128 was full, a very unusual occurence, but only 11 of the players had ATP points. There are obviously a lot of US juniors in that draw, and those surviving into the final round of qualifying tomorrow are Mitchell Frank (who has lost one game in three qualifying matches), Austin Smith, Andrew Adams and Mitchell Polnet.

In contrast, the Sarasota Challenger was unable to fill its 32-draw, but it has an excellent main draw field, including Ryan Sweeting, Mike Russell, James Blake, Donald Young and Ryan Harrison. Harrison, the subject of this Sarasota Herald-Tribune article doesn't specifically address his decision to skip the USTA wild card tournament last week, but his remarks on the "no shortcuts" mantra leave no doubt about his philosophy. According to the last line of the article, Harrison will be playing doubles with his younger brother Christian, who is recovering from a hamstring injury. Charlie Bricker of World Tennis Magazine also wrote a story about Harrison after interviewing him today.

Mac Styslinger, who mentioned to me at the Easter Bowl that he might play in the Sarasota Challenger, received a main draw wild card and will face Yuichi Sugita of Japan in the first round.

The main draw for Charlottesville has not yet been posted, but Sachia Vickery has reached Monday's second round of qualifying, as has the University of Virginia's Lindsey Hardenbergh, a wild card.

For draws and qualifying results, see the Pro Circuit page at usta.com.