©Colette Lewis 2011--
Flushing Meadows, NY--
In 2009, Washington's Denise Dy reached the semifinals of the ITA Indoor, losing to eventual champion Jana Juricova of Cal. This year, Dy encountered the top seed in the quarterfinals of the USTA/ITA Indoor Intercollegiate Championships and avenged that loss, beating the 2011 NCAA champion 7-5, 2-6, 6-3.
"It feels great," said Dy, who like Juricova is a senior. "It's definitely an accomplishment. She's a tough cookie. Just to be in the semifinals is definitely an exciting thing."
Juricova appeared to right herself in the second set, but had difficulty holding serve in the third, while Dy kept the ball in play, challenging Juricova to come up with winners.
"I stayed focused, stayed solid," said the fifth seeded Dy. "I had to execute well, go for my shots and I made it."
Dy's opponent in the semifinals is unseeded Marta Lesniak of SMU, who beat fifth seed Lauren Embree of Florida in the second round and No. 4 seed Mallory Burdette of Stanford in the quarterfinals to make her first appearance in a collegiate major semifinal.
The other women's semifinal features unseeded Joanna Mather of Florida against No. 2 seed Nicole Gibbs. Mather took out 2010 NCAA champion and No. 3 seed Chelsey Gullickson of Georgia 4-6, 6-4, 6-4 in the second round and rolled past unseeded Lauren McHale of North Carolina in the quarterfinals 6-3, 6-1.
Mather, a senior, is playing the Indoor for the first time, and she was nearly eliminated in the first round, saving match points in her three-hour and 16 minute win over Tulsa's Samantha Vickers Thursday night.
"I can't remember if it was two match points, or three, but on one she just barely missed, so I'm lucky to be here," Mather said. "But I feel like finally everything's coming together. Last year my serve was struggling a little bit, but it feels good now, so I think maybe that's the difference between last year and this year."
Gibbs controlled her second round match with USC's Danielle Lao, winning it 6-2, 6-3, but in the quarterfinal against Miami's Anna Bartenstein last Friday night, she was down 4-6, 4-5, with Bartenstein serving for the match. The Miami senior didn't get to match point in that game however, and the Stanford sophomore made one of her patented comebacks, surviving three breaks of serve in the final set to post a 4-6, 7-5, 6-3 victory.
Unlike the women's semifinalists, the final four on the men's side are all seeded. Top seed Mitchell Frank of Virginia ran his winning streak in collegiate majors to nine with a 6-4, 1-6, 6-0 win over Alex Musialek of Kentucky in the second round and a 6-0, 6-2 victory over Costin Paval of Oklahoma in the quarterfinals. He will face No. 5 seed Henrique Cunha of Duke, who beat two of his fellow left-handers on Friday. The Blue Devil junior fought back to take a 2-6, 6-4, 6-3 win over Ryan Thacher of Stanford in the second round, and handled Evan King of Michigan 6-2, 6-4 in quarterfinals.
No. 4 seed Eric Quigley of Kentucky earned his spot in the quarterfinals with a 6-4, 4-6, 6-4 win over Sebastian Fanselow of Pepperdine, then put a end to the run of wild card Haig Schneiderman of Columbia by a 6-1, 6-2 score. Schneiderman's teammates and supporters made quite a commotion when he defeated No. 6 seed Chase Buchanan of Ohio State in the second round 6-7(5), 6-2, 6-2 but Quigley did not let them get into the match.
One of the evening's highlights was the quarterfinal match between No. 8 seed Dennis Nevolo of Illinois and Georgia Tech's Kevin King, which Nevolo captured 6-7(5), 6-3, 6-4.
There were no breaks in the opening set, and King used an effective left-handed serve and plenty of volleys to get many easy holds. In the tiebreaker, there were very few errors by either player, as winners decided most of the points.
The first break of the match came with King serving down 0-1 in the second set, and Nevolo didn't take any credit for that.
"I actually don't feel like I broke him," said Nevolo, a senior. "I feel he played a pretty poor game. I made my returns on his second serves, but he had to have been making like 95 percent first serves in the first set. I just felt like I wasn't in any points at all."
Once Nevolo got the gift, he didn't give it back, although he had to save a break point serving for the second set, which he did with a backhand pass, a theme that would surface later in the match.
In the third set, Nevolo was broken for the first time serving at 1-2, but he got the break right back in the next game and held for 3-3. King fell behind 0-40 in his next service game, but saved two break points, before Nevolo hit the shot of the match--a dipping cross court backhand pass when he was outside the doubles alley.
"I hit one this morning against (North Carolina's Jose) Hernandez that was more of a line drive, and this was a cutesy flick angle, but it was exactly what I needed. Up 40-0, I thought I had two good looks to win those points and he came up with just ridiculous stuff, and then I came up with something ridiculous, so I guess it all evened out."
King held at 3-5 to force Nevolo to serve it out, but he did, at love, hitting an ace on his first match point.
"In the third set I got this weird feeling like, we were both competing so well, and if I lost, I wouldn't feel too bad," Nevolo said. "I still wanted to win really badly, but I thought you know, this is good tennis, this is a good match and he's a great sport, so it definitely had a special feel to it."
Nevolo and Quigley met in last year's Indoor consolation final, with Quigley winning it 7-5, 4-6, 6-4.
Doubles will kick off semifinal Saturday, with three of the four seeded men's and women's teams still in the running for the title.
Stanford's Burdette and Gibbs, the top seeds and the All-American champions, will play No. 3 seeds Kristy Frilling and Shannon Mathews of Notre Dame in one semfinal. No. 4 seeds Nida Hamilton and Linda Abu Mushrefova of Northwestern meet the only unseeded team, USC's Kaitlyn Christian and Sabrina Santamaria. Christian and Santamaria upset No. 2 seeds and 2010 finalists Josipa Bek and Keri Wong of Clemson 8-6.
Top seeds Kevin King and Juan Spir of Georgia Tech fell to Florida's Billy Federhofer and Nasim Slilam 9-7 in the only upset in the men's quarterfinals. Federhofer and Slilam will play No. 3 seed Clifford Marsland and Ashley Watling of Tulsa in one semifinal. No. 2 seeds and All-American champions Chase Buchanan and Blaz Rola of Ohio State will play No. 4 seeds Nick Andrews and Christoffer Konigsfeldt of Cal.
For complete results, and links to live scoring and the live chat, see the ITA tournament page.