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Thursday, October 6, 2011

Top Three Seeds Out After First Two Rounds of Men's All-American

©Colette Lewis 2011--
Tulsa, OK--

More qualifiers than seeds advanced to the round of 16 at the 2011 ITA Men's All-American Championships after a long and windy day of action at the Michael Case Tennis Center.

Kentucky's Eric Quigley, the No. 2 seed and 2010 finalist was the first upset victim, losing in the first round to Alexis Klegou of Texas A&M 6-4, 6-3 (see story below). Michigan's Evan King, the No. 7 seed, lost to Kyle McMorrow of Washington 7-6, 6-2, also in the first round, before the gusty winds really started to play havoc with service tosses, overheads and just about every other shot.

The second round matchup between top seed Blaz Rola of Ohio State and Jarmere Jenkins of Virginia was expected to be a good one, but trailing 2-3 in the first set, Jenkins reeled off nine straight games, taking control of the match with his quickness and consistency, despite the tricky conditions. He went on to win the match 6-3, 6-1.

"I guess he wasn't that used to playing in the wind," Jenkins said. "You can tell it kind of affected him."

Jenkins recently won a fall tournament on his home courts, but it was winning the Purnell-Thomas open tournament this summer, where he beat three Top 200 players, that boosted his confidence for the fall college season.

"That gave me a whole lot of confidence," said Jenkins, a junior. "This summer I didn't get a chance to play that much because I was taking a lot of summer classes. I tried to turn that into a positive--I worked really hard this summer on my game--and I took that into the matches this summer, and kept rolling with it. I'm feeling very confident in my game."

No. 6 seed Dennis Nevolo of Illinois was on the brink of becoming the fourth seed to go out, down 2-5 in the third set against Adrien Puget of France, and facing two match points in that game.

"I trusted myself and came forward," said Nevolo, who went on to take a 6-1, 3-6, 7-6(3) decision. "It was so difficult to execute, it was the most frustrating thing in the world, and I hit a great overhead, crosscourt, and I'd been whiffing overheads. I gained confidence after that, and I think he dropped a little bit, but I definitely raised my level."

Nevolo got into that deep hole because he was unable to find an effective serve in the wind, which was from the South at 20 mph with higher gusts.

"I was serving really good in the first set, and then the wind picked up about 10 miles per hour, so my style of serving was completely ineffective. I just didn't know how to get the point started. Brad (head coach Dancer) just told me to hit a heavy kick serve, as hard as I could. It just loosened me up, my percentage went higher, my feet were more aggressive, and I turned my game up a few notches."

After Nevolo had survived and Rola had not, No. 3 seed Henrique Cunha of Duke was poised on the edge, trailing Costin Paval of Oklahoma 5-6 in the third set. Cunha joined Rola on the sidelines however, dropping his serve to give Paval the 7-5, 3-6, 7-5 victory.

Paval joined two teammates in the round of 16 with the other two Sooners having come through the qualifying. Sophomores Peerakit Siributwong and Guillermo Alcorta both won their fifth matches in four days, to make Oklahoma the only team with three players left in the draw. With two doubles wins, the Sooners went 8-0 on the day. Illinois has two players in the round of 16 with Nevolo and qualifier Roy Kalmanovic; wild card Mitchell Frank gives Virginia two players in the last 16 as well.

The fourth qualifier to make the round of 16 is Georgy Batrakov of Brigham Young, and the fifth, Charlie Jones of Vanderbilt, did it the hard way, saving seven match points against Marcos Giron of UCLA to escape with a 7-5, 4-6, 7-6(4-1 ret.) victory.

Jones, who had played three hours and 45 minutes in his final qualifying victory over Georgia Tech's Juan Melian Puigventos, Wednesday, was down 4-5 0-40 in the third set against Giron. But he fought back, saving four match points in that game, and Giron began to show signs of physical problems as the match passed the three hour mark. He asked for a trainer at the changeover after he took a 6-5 lead, and he received a brief massage, but going up for an overhead with Jones serving at 5-6 deuce, Giron cramped and fell awkwardly. Cramping and unable to get up, Giron could not be offered assistance, and he was given a point penalty for delay of game by the time he finally was able to stumble up and resume his position.

Shaken, Jones, who had made very few unforced errors in the match, made two, to give Giron another match point, but Giron wasn't going to receive any more gifts from Jones. With his right hand injured from the fall, Giron was often hitting the ball with the racquet in his left hand, and was serving underhanded, or sidearm, to start the tiebreaker. He won one point somehow, but Jones never waivered and Giron retired.

It was the third bitter defeat of the day for UCLA, with Clay Thompson failing to convert any of his four match points in a 6-3, 4-6, 7-6(6) first round loss to Baylor's Roberto Maytin, and Puget unable to win either of his two match points against Nevolo.

The first round of doubles was also completed, and there was no escaping the upset bug there either. Although top seeds Juan Spir and Kevin King of Georgia Tech won, No. 2 seeds Marcel and Chris Thiemann of Ole Miss were beaten by Gonzalo Escobar and Vitor Manzini of Texas Tech.

For complete results, see the ITA tournament page.