Qualifiers Quiroz and Styslinger Post Major Upsets on ITA Men's All-American Championships Opening Day
©Colette Lewis 2012--
Qualifiers Mac Styslinger of Virginia and Roberto Quiroz of Southern California earned the two biggest upsets in an opening day chock full of them Thursday at the ITA All-American Championships.
Quiroz, a sophomore, took out No. 3 seed Evan King of Michigan 6-2, 6-4 in the first round, then survived the challenge of Juan Spir of Georgia Tech 5-7, 6-3, 6-3 in the second round as the lights came on at the Michael D. Case Tennis Center.
Styslinger won his opening round match in the main draw against Dmytro Mamedov of Utah 6-4, 6-3, then eliminated No. 2 seed and doubles partner Jarmere Jenkins 6-1, 6-4 to collect his fifth win in four days in Tulsa.
"It's always tough playing against your friends and especially your teammates," said the freshman. "This is just my second college tournament, so it's a whole new experience. I wish it had been against someone from a different school, it would have felt a little better I think, but I'm glad to get the win."
Styslinger was up 6-1, 5-2 and serving, but admitted he got a little tight and was broken before reaching match point. Jenkins held to make it 5-4, but Styslinger didn't falter in his second attempt to finish out the win. He hit two forehand winners and an ace to give himself three match points, and he converted the first, when Jenkins sent a first serve return long.
Styslinger surprised himself with his level of play against Jenkins.
"This morning I just played like I had been, and then I came out in this match, and I don't know what happened, but I played probably one of the best matches I've ever played. Everything was clicking. I got a little tight, serving it out at 5-2, he started playing really well, hitting the ball big and scrambling like he always does, but I was lucky to serve it out at 5-4. I'm still a little bit in shock, to be honest, but it was good to come out there and play great tennis under the circumstances."
With University of Virginia freshmen capturing the last two All-American singles titles, Styslinger is now in a position to emulate teammates Alex Domijan and Mitchell Frank, but he doesn't feel any added pressure.
"I'm a freshman and it's a new experience," said Styslinger. "I'm just enjoying it right now. There really is no pressure, that's what helps out freshmen in the past."
Quiroz was able to keep King on the defensive throughout much of the match, building a 6-2, 4-1 lead before King got one of the breaks back to make the second set interesting. But Quiroz held on to the break and served well in the final game, hitting an excellent serve on his second match point to finish the upset.
"I knew Evan well because we are the same age," said Quiroz, who, like King, is left-handed. "He has always been one of the top guys in the United States. Evan is a really nice player, that's why he's top five in the country, but I just played my tennis and tried my best, and I'm just happy to win the match."
Quiroz is one of three USC players in the round of 16, with No. 7 seed Raymond Sarmiento avoiding the upset virus that spread throughout the 12 courts Thursday, and Quiroz's cousin, Emilio Gomez, also advancing. Gomez trailed No. 11 seed Kyle McMorrow 5-3 in the final set in their second round match, with Gomez winning the final four games for a 6-3, 2-6, 7-5 victory.
Jenkins and King were joined on the sidelines by No. 4 seed Nik Scholtz of Ole Miss, who lost in the second round to Soren Hess-Olesen of Texas 6-2, 7-5, and No. 5 seed Mate Zsiga of Baylor, who dropped a 6-1, 6-4 decision to UCLA's Marcos Giron in the second round.
For Giron, it was a much happier ending to his day in Tulsa than his previous visit as a freshman, when he failed to convert seven match points against Charlie Jones of Vanderbilt, broke his wrist in a fall late in the match and ended up in a hospital emergency room and unable to play for several months.
"It was kind of interesting coming back here," said Giron. "I can't say I wasn't thinking about it when I was first on the court, but I was pretty good about being mentally focused on my match. And as soon as I knew I wasn't going to be on the same court, I knew I was good to go. After I won the match I was thinking, all right, I don't have to worry about it anymore. I made it through the same day where I had my nightmare."
Giron played all three Futures events in Southern California last month, qualifying in two of them and reaching the quarterfinals in Costa Mesa, so he felt prepared for the level he would encounter at the first collegiate major of the season.
"They definitely helped a lot," said Giron, who defeated qualifier Raphael Hemmeler of Duke in the first round. "They're very tough Futures, but also just getting matches under my belt. And also all the past top college players, like Reid Carleton and Daniel Nguyen, all these good players, I knew I was close, that I played well with them, so I knew coming in here I could do well."
Eleven of the 16 seeds are missing from Friday's third round, but top seed Henrique Cunha is not one of them. Although the Duke senior had a few nervous moments against Chris Diaz of Ohio State, particularly at the end of the second set, when Diaz won five straight games from 5-2 down to force a third, Cunha came through with a 6-1, 5-7, 6-2 victory in the second round match. Diaz, who won four matches in pre-qualifying, three matches in qualifying and one match in the main draw this morning, couldn't quite summon the energy in the final set to keep his streak alive. Cunha began closing the net and finishing points earlier in the final set, and Diaz, a clever and frustratingly good defender, wasn't able to control the points as he did in his second set run.
No. 8 seed KU Singh of Georgia, No. 6 seed Domijan of Virginia and No. 13 seed Mikelis Libietis join Sarmiento and Cunha as the only seeds still remaining in the round of 16.
For the complete results, including the first round of doubles, see the ITA tournament page. The upsets didn't end in the singles, as top seeds Scholtz and Jonas Lutjen of Ole Miss fell to Yannick and Dominique Maden of Clemson 8-4.
At the women's ITA All-American at the Riviera Tennis Club, two freshmen pre-qualifiers, Florida's Danielle Collins and Virginia's Julia Elbaba, continued their impressive runs, but one of them will lose tomorrow, as they meet each other in the second round. Elbaba beat top seed Cristina Sanchez-Quintanar of Texas A&M, while Collins defeated Lucia Batta of UNLV. In the top half of the draw, two other qualifiers advanced to the second round, with freshman Krista Hardebeck of Stanford and Caroline Price of North Carolina picking up victories.
The complete results are available at the ITA tournament page.