©Colette Lewis 2011--
Flushing Meadows, NY--
After twelve hours of tennis on the opening day of the USTA/ITA Intercollegiate Indoor Championships, only three seeds failed to advance to the second round.
The Indoor Training Center at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center was buzzing with activity on Thursday morning as doubles teams took the court first, and although top seeds Mallory Burdette and Nicole Gibbs of Stanford were tested, needing a late break to take a 9-7 victory over Alexa Guarachi and Mary Anne Mcfarlane of Alabama, all four women's seeds advanced to the quarterfinals. Form held in the men's doubles as well, although top seeds Kevin King and Juan Spir of Georgia Tech were behind 3-0 before accelerating past wild cards Nathaniel Gery and Winston Lin of Columbia 8-4.
Jana Juricova of Cal, the women's top seed and 2009 Indoor champion, struggled in her match with Cristina Sanchez-Quintanar of Texas A&M, but started swinging away in the third set and emerged with a 6-2, 2-6, 6-1 win. Second seed Gibbs, third seed Chelsey Gullickson of Georgia and fourth seed Burdette all looked very strong in their opening straight-set wins.
It was the two seeded freshman who were upset victims in the women's field, with 5-8 seeds Trice Capra of Duke and Robin Anderson of UCLA losing in three sets. Capra, a quarterfinalist at the ITA Riviera All-American last month, fell to Aeriel Ellis of Texas 3-6, 6-4, 6-2 and Anderson, an All-American semifinalist, went out to Diana Nakic of Baylor 1-6, 6-2, 6-2.
Two of the women's first round matches ended in third-set tiebreakers. Kristie Boxx of Ole Miss came back after falling behind a set and 4-0 to beat Petra Niedermayerova of Kansas State 4-6, 7-6(3), 7-6(4), hitting several aces at key moments in each of the tiebreakers she won.
In the evening's final match, Florida's Joanna Mather, down a break in the final set, broke Tulsa's Samantha Vickers at 5-4 and went on to a 3-6, 7-5, 7-6(4) win, in a three hour and 16 minute marathon.
North Carolina's Lauren McHale, who was cheered on by her sister Christina, the WTA's 42nd-ranked player, has had an outstanding fall, and she continued her impressive play with a 6-2, 7-5 victory over Mcfarlane of Alabama.
McHale had wrist problems at the end of the last season, but attributes her return to complete health as one of the major reasons for her recent success.
"My backhand's my best shot and I have it back now," McHale said. "It's exciting. I'm more confident and I've been working really hard."
McHale, a junior, is often in her younger sister's box as a spectator, but she appreciates having a chance to switch roles this weekend.
"It's awesome, I love it," said Lauren. "She hasn't seen my play in a year. Whenever I hit a good shot or need some help, I look up here and she's giving me a little fist pump. It's good, I like it."
Christina, who trains on the same courts where the tournament is being played, which is 30 minutes from her home in New Jersey, also enjoys the opportunity to provide support.
"It's nice, because Lauren always supports me and comes to a lot of my matches, so I'm happy to be here to support her now. It's pretty nerve-racking watching. Playing is nerve-racking too, but at least you're in control."
There was only one upset in the men's draw today, with Fresno State's Remi Boutillier avenging his quarterfinal loss to No. 7 seed Wil Spencer at the All-American in Tulsa with a 6-3, 6-2 victory on the faster courts in New York.
Top seed Mitchell Frank of Virginia also found himself facing a recent opponent in Daniel Nguyen of USC, but he was able to duplicate his semifinal win in Tulsa, taking today's match 6-2, 6-2.
Frank said he thought the much more benign conditions indoors helped him hit the ball more aggressively than he had been able to do with the slower courts and stiff breezes that characterized the Tulsa tournament last month.
Stanford's Ryan Thacher defeated Illinois' Roy Kalmanovich 7-6(1), 6-4, with only one break deciding it. Thacher, who served exceptionally well today, needed 16 break points before he finally got one, but that was primarily due to Kalmanovich's stellar play when he was down. Forehand winners saved many of those break points, and Thacher's excellent defense also prolonged many a point, but in the end, Kalmanovich couldn't dent the left-hander's serve.
Columbia, the tournament's host school, had its success story Thursday evening when wild card Haig Schneiderman took a 6-2, 6-7(5), 6-1 victory from All-American quarterfinalist Alexis Klegou of Texas A&M. Schneiderman, cheered on by a dozen or so of his teammates, looked like he might have missed his chance for the win when he couldn't convert two match points serving at 5-4 in the second set. Klegou saved both with forehand winners, and two backhand errors by Schneiderman made it 5-5. Klegou again came up with big shots in the late stages of the tiebreaker, but it was all Schneiderman in the final set, much to the delight of his very vocal supporters.
Schneiderman, a senior from New York, recovered from the disappointment of losing those two match points by adjusting his mental focus.
"I was thinking about winning in those moments," Schneiderman admitted. "I thought I had the match and I started feeling like it was over. So I told myself to play every point as its own and not think about winning or losing, and that helped me in the last set."
Friday will feature two rounds of singles and one round of doubles. See the ITA tournament page for links to the Live Blog and Live Scoring as well as the complete draws.